Medication Awareness

Last week Thursday, Palliser Health Region’s Community Health Services organized a medication awareness session at the Medicine Hat Public Library Theatre. Speakers for the evening were Dr. Fredrykka Rinaldi, a family physician who has practiced in Medicine Hat for the past 14 years and Ken Walker, a local pharmacist, who has lived here for the last 30 years.

Yours truly was the moderator of the session. Rinaldi and Walker discussed many aspects of medication errors. I think the evening was very informative and there were many questions from the audience.

Usually the error is in communication. How we communicate with each other, how we understand each other and how we implement advice given to us.

You, as a patient, trust your doctor and pharmacist. Your doctor and pharmacist trust you. They want you to be an informed patient, to listen and remember the instructions given to you and follow them carefully.

It is a complex process.

In a perfect world life would be wonderful if everything went according to plan and everybody did what he or she was expected to do. In the real world, the one we live in, there will be mistakes and problems; there will be breakdown in communication and there will be confusion.

For the purpose of this column, let us keep it simple. Generally speaking, if you remember and follow the following five principles, you will be able to prevent errors in medication use:

-Almost every medication (prescription or purchased over-the-counter) has likely side-effects and may interact with other medications you take.

-Always carry a list of medications you take (prescription or purchased over-the-counter) and a list of allergies. Remember to present the list to a health care provider when you are seeking medical advice.

-If you are taking pills for a long time for chronic illnesses, whether it is one medication or several, always have the pills reviewed by your doctor every six to 12 months.

-Make sure you are taking the right medications, for the right reasons, in the right way and they are compatible with other medications you use. Keep them in a safe place.

-Make sure it is safe to drive while on these medications.

Concern about patient safety is growing and 33 percent of Albertans worry about medical mistakes. Research has shown that patients who take high number of prescription and non-prescription medications have more than 50 percent risk of having medication error when they are admitted to a hospital or see a physician who is not aware of what the patient takes.

As an informed patient you should be able to prevent this.

For a Tuesday smile!

Last week-end I went to a local golf course where I am a member and store my golf bag and clubs. There was a young fellow who was helping members with their bags. So I asked him if he could bring my bag as I wanted to hit some balls on the driving range. He went inside and did not show up for a while.

I got worried. I went inside to see what was happening. He was still looking for my bag. The bags are usually stored in alphabetical order. So I reminded him that my last name starts with B.

He said, ‘There are too many Bs here.’

I said, ‘I hope you have enough honey!’

He smiled. Did you?

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