Below are the top seven things the Institute for Safe Medication Practices says that
you, or people you care about, should do to help prevent errors when medications
are prescribed. Included are safety tips to follow even before a hospitalisation.
1. Share your medication list. Your doctors and nurses will need to know what
you are taking. So before a hospitalisation it’s important to have an accurate list
to share with them. Be sure to include prescription medications and any over the
counter or natural therapy products.
2. Discuss allergies and the type of reaction you have. Hospital staff will
always ask about any allergies you might have, as well as bad reactions that
you’ve had to any medication or substance including food. As a part of your
health assessment, your doctors and nurses will ask you if you drink alcohol or
use any illegal or prescription drugs that have not been prescribed for you. This
information will remain confidential but is important for your care. It is important
to be very honest with your doctors and nurses because alcohol and other drugs
may interfere with medications you will be getting or change the way you respond
3. Review your home medication list with medications you are given in
the hospital. If you are admitted to hospital, ask your nurse or doctor what
medications you are getting while you are a patient so you can compare it with
the list of medications you take at home. If any medication is not being given to
you during your hospitalisation be sure to ask the nurse and doctor why you are
not getting it.
4. Learn about new medications. Ask your doctor about each medication being
prescribed and the reason you need to take it. Then have your nurse confirm the
reason you are being given each medication. Always make sure you are wearing a
hospital ID bracelet, and make sure nothing is done without someone first reading
or scanning the bracelet to identify you.
5. Call for the nurse if a medication pump beeps. Medications and other
intravenous (IV) fluids are frequently given using an IV pump. Sometimes these
pumps can beep at unexpected times. Never attempt to turn off the pump or
allow any visitors in the room to touch the pump. Doing so can cause a medication
or solution to be given too fast, too slow, or stop it.
6. Bring an advocate. Some hospitalised patients are unable to participate in their
own care due to illness or some type of other physical limitations. If this occurs,
try to arrange for a close friend or family member to stay with you. Some patients
who have surgery or are in severe pain may be given a pain relief device known
as patient–controlled analgesia (PCA). These devices allow a patient to take pain
medication without having to call a nurse. This is done through a pump connected
to an intravenous line (IV). When a patient feels pain, a button can be pushed
and a dose of medication is released. This button must only be pressed by the
patient, not by others. Don’t let family members press a pain pump button. Others
pressing the button for the patient can result in an overdose of medication which
may cause breathing difficulties.
7. Review your discharge instructions. An updated medication list should be
given to you upon discharge. Compare this to the list of medications you took
prior to being hospitalised. Discuss any new prescriptions or changes in your
medications with your doctor and nurse. If you experienced any new reactions or
side effects to any of the treatments you received in hospital, have the nurse write
this down on your records.