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What are medicines management: guidelines for safety?

Two nurses converse and take notes about medications in the pharmacy.

Medications management: Few safety tips for patients to remember

Medication management is a strategy for involving patients and nurses in the creation of an exhaustive and accurate medication inventory using the brown bag method. From April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2020, NHS Resolution received 1,420 claims for medication process errors. Of those claims, 487 were settled with damages paid, costing the NHS £35 million (excluding legal costs). Every health and social care professional is responsible for the safe and secure management of medications, and they must adhere to their professional guidelines at all times. They are not only responsible for the safe delivery of medicines but also for upholding dignity, encouraging independence, and respecting the choices the service user or patient makes. 

In this article, we will discuss several medication safety guidelines and tactics. 

Follow medication schedules and doses 

1. Understand your medication routine: 

Once you get to and approach a pharmacy, you have the choice to confirm the exact dose and timing of each pill with your pharmacist. You can heal faster if you stick to the time and dosage as suggested. Also, keep in mind that some medications must be taken on an empty stomach or with meals.  

2. Double-check information with your pharmacist: 

Verifying your information with your pharmacist each time you refill a prescription or begin a new one will help you stay on track.  

Here are a few tips to help you adhere to your medication schedule:  

1. Write down the medication schedule and track changes: 

Put your daily medication schedule on a calendar or chart. With the advancement of technology, you now have printable medication schedule templates online to make your life easier. Moreover, updating the schedule each time your medications change will help you keep track of them. 

2. Keep your schedule in a visible place: 

It is preferable to keep your schedule in a visible location, such as the refrigerator door, a kitchen cabinet, or your study table. 

3. Make taking your medicines part of your daily routine: 

Once the intake of medicines becomes part of your daily routine, it will be much easier for you to remember and take them on time without fail.  

Consider using a pill organiser 

For patients who have several medicines, it is advisable to use a weekly or daily pill organiser to help make sure you get the right dose at the right time. Smartphones or computer-based apps may also help in keeping track of medicines management. Medicines that aren't currently in your pillbox should be kept in their original containers. The labels include important information such as the medicine name, dosage, clinician's name, and expiration date. Instructions about storage and information on some major side effects are also on the label. 

Inform your clinicians about your medications

If you are suffering from various illnesses and have to visit various clinicians for those ailments, it is extremely important to inform each of them about all of the medicines that you take. So, it is always best to carry a list of medications you take. 

1. Use a medicine wallet card: 

Ask your chemist if a medicine wallet card is available, or create one on your own. This card will help you maintain an updated inventory of your medications. 

2. Make sure your pharmacy has a record of all the medicines you take: 

Use your medication list to let your pharmacist know about all of your prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines. It is not necessary that all of your physicians and clinicians prescribe all of your medicines. It can also help your doctor look for the sources of any side effects or interactions you may be having. 

3. Try filling your prescriptions at one pharmacy: 

This will make getting prescription refills simpler and help your pharmacist protect you from drug interactions. Moreover, by using one pharmacy, you could keep your medication records in one place, and the pharmacist could evaluate your risk and work with your doctor to avoid potential risks.  

4. Inform your clinicians, physicians, and pharmacist about your allergies:  

They can document this information in your files. Additionally, before taking any new prescriptions, confirm that they will not interact with your allergies. 

5. Never stop taking medicines on your own: 

Before stopping any medicines, consult and get guidance from your physician or clinicians. Some medicines need to be stopped gradually, and if any medicine is making you feel sick or causing difficulties, you might need to adjust the dosage or medicine.  

6. Review your medications annually: 

Once each year, it is important to take your medicine for an annual check-up, so your doctor can review it and change the dosage or medicines as such if necessary.  

Safety in medication management  

As part of medication management, where you store medications and how you consume them can have a substantial impact on their efficacy and your safety.  You can always consult your doctor about the possible side effects or medication interactions that you should be aware of. You should also confirm where you should store the medicine and who to call when you have a bad reaction or take a prescription differently than prescribed. Following are a few tips for the management of medications:  

1. Storage:  

Storage is a key factor in medication management. Medicines should always be stored safely in a dry, cool place. For this reason, avoid keeping prescriptions in the bathroom.  

2. Keep the medicine in a childproof place: 

If you have children at home, keep the medicine containers out of reach, especially those without childproof caps. Some medicines have bright colours and shapes that can attract children.  

3. Take medication in a safe environment: 

One of the important aspects of medication management is the environment in which it is taken. Never take medicines in the dark or when you are tired or distracted. 

4. Take your own prescriptions: 

Another key factor to be looked at in medication management is never taking medicines based on the prescription of others. We should understand that each person is different and that their medication dosage, frequency, and medicine can change.  

5. Consult your doctor before consuming alcohol: 

Some medicines might poorly interact with alcohol, which might have adverse effects. Thus, as part of medication management, it is safe to consult with a doctor before consuming alcohol while on medication.  

How do I manage expired and discontinued medicines?  

Disposal of medication is important in medicine management. If your doctor asks you to discontinue a medicine, dispose of it immediately. You should also dispose of medication that is expired, as it can't be of any further use. Some medicines are harmful and could be fatal if accidentally consumed, making the disposal process important. Follow the disposal instructions on the medicine's label or the accompanying patient information. 

If no instructions are given, crush and mix medicines with coffee grounds, cat litter, or food scraps, then seal them in a bag or a container (such as a jar or a margarine tub) and discard them in the regular trash.  

At Nurse Group, we understand the importance of medication management and provide training to our staff to handle medicines accordingly. We are the best nursing agency in the UK, with nearly a decade of experience in the healthcare sector. 

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