You go to the pharmacy and get a monthly subscription for your diabetes medication. But when you reach home and take the first dose from your new lot, you see that instead of the usual green round pills, these pills are red and heart-shaped. Is this the same medication? Should you be taking it?
With the plethora of prescriptions handwritten and distributed by pharma across cities each year, medication errors are no surprise. But even with pharmacists double-checking prescriptions, no amount of safety measures are error proof where there’s human involvement. Whatever the cause of medication mix-up, it’s an anxiety-provoking issue for patients.
While it’s impossible to control every reason for medication mistakes, there are steps you and your family members can take to avoid medication mix-ups when you’re away from an inpatient environment.
Consider Pill Identification Tools
Advancements in pill identification tools have resulted in options like pill identifier by number and color. Using it, you can verify pills that you were prescribed to receive and prevent taking the wrong medication. Some of them even enable users to search for pill images by imprint on the pill. The signal that this kind of a tool should be used to ensure you’re going to put the right pill in your mouth is that you’re noticing something new about the medication; it’s shape, size, color, etc.
Keep One Doctor
Some people tend to have multiple doctors, which can do more harm than good. Especially for seniors, it’s important to keep one primary doctor and assign him/her the gatekeeper role. You may assume that doctors discuss patients with one another, but that may not be the case. A new doctor may not be aware of all the past doctors involved in your scenario. Therefore, it’s important to have a single doctor managing your prescriptions. If there are multiple doctors involved, keep a list of who manages what, and update the list whenever there is a change in prescription.
Create and Maintain an Up-to-date List
Build and keep an accurate list of medications you’ve been prescribed, mentioning both over-the-counter and holistic medications. Include dosage frequency, dosage quantity, possible side effects, and the reason you have to take the drug. You can also mention details of what is printed on the label and what a particular drug looks like. The list should be kept in a safe and easily accessible location. Ask your family members to keep their lists separate to ensure there isn’t a mix-up. The list can be referred to at any time when there are concerns over medication accuracy.
Get Your Pills Organized
A pill organizer can be a lifesaving tool for many patients. Options like Simple Meds include the services of trained pharmacists that dispense over-the-counter medications, prescriptions and multi-dose vitamins in simple packaging. The medications are arranged and organized conveniently into serving packs, labelled with the details of expiration as well as the time when they should be taken. Consider talking to the pharmacists in advance if you have elderly at home to ensure the packets are customized for their specific needs.
If you’re taking multiple medications in a regular routine, it can be challenging to keep track. But if you implement the tips mentioned above, you can keep medication mismanagement at bay.