Our Readers Respond — More on preventing medication errors


After reading this article (“Preventing medication errors by empowering patients”), I felt pleased that safety measures have been elevated regarding administering medication to hospital patients. I do agree that efforts made to limit medication errors may be ineffective, unless time is set aside to educate patients about their medications. Hospital regulations require that patients return home shortly after they have been stabilized and full recovery is expected at home; for this reason, discharge instructions which includes medication education is important.

Along with the valuable teaching points given by the author, I would also stress the importance of informing patients, that not all drug information retrieved from the internet is correct; checks should be done to insure that sites are reliable. Medication should not be shared with friends and family, individuals should seek medical assistance and by so doing, receive adequate treatment and therapy. Patients also need to know that they should not stop taking antibiotic medications abruptly, even if they feel better but continue medications as prescribed by a physician.  Pain medications are often ordered to be taken as needed; encouraging patients to take them, before the onset of severe pain is recommended for maximum effects to be achieved. Other medications that patients should be taught about include anticoagulants such as Coumadin and aspirin and oral anti-diabetics such as Amaryl and Glucophage. Anti-diabetic medication are to be taken as prescribed usually before meals either breakfast, lunch or dinner; patients who take Coumadin or aspirin should be told to include spinach, lettuce and broccoli in their diets because these foods contain sources of vitamin k which helps prevent excessive bleeding. They should also be told to watch for black and blue marks under skin surfaces, bleeding gums, bloody stools and cuts that bleed profusely; doctors’ appointments for monitoring Coumadin levels in the blood should not be missed.

For some patients, managing medication at home, could be challenging for reasons such as the inability to understand written or spoken English, illiteracy or non-compliance; however by using the hospital interpreter service, and informing concerned family members medication teaching can be delivered. If these teaching methods are carefully followed, safety measures could be effective.

Claudia Gittens, RN

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