If someone asked you to “reconcile your medication”, would you be able to say “Already done!”? Who thinks about “Medication Reconciliation”? Probably not many. Who knows about it? Probably even less. We don’t realize the importance of this task because most of us think it’s a daunting task that would take hours and hours to complete. Although that’s not a true statement, still many of us would not take the time to do so. However, according to the Institute for Health Care Improvement, “Experience from hundreds of organizations has shown that poor communication of medical information at transition points is responsible for as many as 50% of all medication errors and up to 20% of adverse drug events in the hospital.” (http://bit.ly/21tuzwR). Scary!
Do you know in most cases prior to being discharged from the hospital there is a team of people who are required to “reconcile your medication”? This process includes trade and generic names, dosages, why you’re taking a particular medication, the doctor who prescribed it, the date it was prescribed, orders when the patient is transferred to other care units within the hospital, compare the medications you were taking prior to admission and those that have been ordered during admission, these are just a few of the steps and this can take hours to complete ultimately delaying your discharge.
Organizing or reconciling your medications at home is just as important and doesn’t require a team of people. Think about it. Who do you know that is aware of your medications? The dosages? Why you’re taking them? Can you even remember all of your medications and the details? Would you be able to repeat your medications if you were admitted into the hospital? Does your emergency contact person know? If not, ask yourself, why are they your emergency contact person if they don’t know your health information? And finally, can you answer those questions about your spouse or significant other or children or parents? If you had a way to possibly save their life, wouldn’t you want to?
Reconciling your medications, and being in control of them is more important than you think. Having your medication information at your fingertips could be lifesaving. Reconciling your medications can help you avoid drug interactions at your pharmacy (because most of us have more than one), at your doctor (because most of us have more than one), and at the hospital (in an emergency you have no idea which hospital you might end up at). Your health information is just that – YOURS! Take control of it. Know it. Manage it. Don’t rely on your memory and don’t rely on your doctor to manage it for you. You probably have more than one doctor and that doctor has hundreds if not thousands of patients. They are not going to remember your medication information. You need to be in control of your own medications. You need to be able to answer questions about your medications. A doctor is only as effective as the information that you provide them. They are not mind readers. If you provide your doctor with no information or the wrong information regarding your medications, you’re putting your life at an unnecessary risk. Wouldn’t you rather know your medications, dosages, and why you’re taking them? Don’t you think a doctor is going to be much more effective in your healthcare and you as the patient are going to receive better patient care if you provide the correct medication and health history information? Of course you do.
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