New Tool Issued by HHS to Help Reduce Medication Errors

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), has released a new tool to help consumers reduce medication errors — a revised booklet, with detachable wallet-sized card, entitled: “Your Medicines: Be Smart. Be Safe.” This booklet and wallet card may be useful both to seniors and to their family caregivers.

According to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, three out of four Americans are not following their doctor’s advice when it comes to taking prescription medication, AHRQ says in a release issued with the booklet.

The booklet states four basic tips on medication management, with useful information under each, to help patients and caregivers learn more about how to take medicines safely:

  1. Give your health care team all important information — This includes all the medicines, vitamins, herbals, and dietary supplements you’re taking; any allergies you have; the names and information about all other doctors who have prescribed medications for you; and full information about your health and medical history.
  2. Get the facts about your medicine — Ask your doctor and pharmacist all pertinent questions to understand why and how you are to take this medication. A suggested list of questions to ask is included, covering topics such as:
    • the medication’s side effects,
    • whether a brand name or generic is indicated,
    • whether you should stop taking other medications,
    • what dosage you should take and how often,
    • when to stop taking it,
    • how to know if it is working,
    • any food, drinks or activities to avoid while on the medication,
    • what to do if you miss a dose, and
    • where to get more information.
  3. Stay with your treatment plan — Complete the course of antibiotics ordered, and ask your doctor for further information on refills, any needed blood tests or other tests, and any side effects; and
  4. Keep a record of your medicines — Use the wallet-sized card provided with the booklet to keep a record of all pertinent medications you are taking and the prescribing physicians, and carry it with you to doctors’ appointments.

The detachable, wallet-sized card included with the booklet can be personalized to help patients keep track of all medicines they are taking, including vitamins and herbal and other dietary supplements, and provide a medication record, as well as a record of all prescribing physicians.

The card can be carried with you and presented at each doctor visit to help coordinate care.

View and print a copy of the Booklet and wallet card » Your Medicines: Be Smart. Be Safe

More Information

See also, FDA Issues Tips for Caregivers on Medication Management

And, see generally, our resource pages on Practical Tips, Skills & Tools for Caregiving


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