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Medication Safety is a Priority

February 18, 2015

While most studies focus only on medication errors in hospitals, the billions of medications prescribed annually at clinics and doctors' offices, filled at pharmacies and taken at home are also prone to error.  Some mistakes are more serious than others, but all medication mistakes can be prevented.  Boone County Hospital (BCH) is encouraging every adult community member to complete a “File of Life” card.   The card can be obtained from your local Boone physician’s office or by calling the Boone County Hospital Foundation Office at (515) 433-8470.  Carry the card with you in your wallet and share it with every one of your health care providers. 

“A complete and accurate home medication list is very crucial to the safe and effective care of our patients,” says Sondra Donald, PharmD, BCH Pharmacy Director.  “It is very important for the patient to be responsible for their own medication list.  There are many scenarios where the doctor’s office list doesn’t match what the patient is actually taking, the patient comes to the hospital after clinic/pharmacy hours or they go to a hospital/doctor’s office out of town.  If any of these occur, the patient is the only one who knows what they are actually taking, so it is important to keep the list current and up-to-date.  It should include prescription medications, and over-the-counter, as well as herbs and supplements.”
Boone County Hospital encourages these steps to avoid medication errors with any health care provider or pharmacy: 
  • Use the “File of Life” card to keep track of current prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and share with your doctor.  
  • Let your doctor know about any allergies or reactions.
  • Ask your doctor and pharmacist whether it’s safe to take medications together or to take certain vitamins, herbs and other supplements with your meds.
  • Read the label on your prescription.  Does it have your name on it?  And, is it the correct medicine?   
  • Ask the doctor or nurse why you should take a medication and request written information about the brand name, generic name and any side effects.
  • Speak up if you think the doctor or nurse is about to give you the wrong medicine.
  • Know what time you normally take a medicine and let the doctor or nurse know if that doesn’t happen.
  • Tell your nurse or doctor if you don’t feel well after receiving a medicine.
As part of Boone County Hospital’s Medication Safety Program, the staff urges patients to take an increasingly active role in their own health care.  The hospital’s campaign urges patients to: 
  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don’t understand, ask again.  It’s your body and you have a right to know.
  • Pay attention to the care you are receiving.  Make sure you’re getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals.  Don’t assume anything.
  • Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
  • Know what medications you take and why you take them.  
  • Participate in all decisions about your treatment.  You are the center of the health care team.
Pictured:  BCH Pharmacy Director Sondra Donald, PharmD, with a wallet-size and life-size “File of Life” card

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