Thursday, March 26, 2009

Be Where You Are

I had planned to write about chipper-shredder mishaps today, sharing how a random call to jury duty introduced me to the discipline of Human Factors engineering and changed what I believe about people, lawn & garden equipment, and healthcare delivery systems.

Principles from human factors and cognitive psychology are important because they help to determine a rank order for risk reduction strategies. This helps clinicians identify the best strategies for preventing error, and helps administrators make provisions for endorsing, and funding, the risk-reduction strategies most likely to work. These are interesting things to talk about.

But sometimes, you've just have to be where you are. Today, I'm providing hospice care to our family's 12-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Daisy. I'm trying to figure out the best plan of care and reviewing her recently acquired medication list in hopes of finding some hopeful explanation for her marked downturn. (Also cleaning up big messes, running the space heater, and trying to maintain a minimal-stim environment for Daisy, who prefers to stay curled up near, and occasionally on, my feet.)

We all regress under stress, I guess, and Daisy's working hard to stay connected. But when I'm "feeling" more than I care to, I become hyper-analytical, hoping to move back to the "thinking" place where I'm more comfortable. So I'll share a few nuggets from my unwelcome journey:

1. You can get medications for your pet at your local pharmacy. In the past, the medications our pets have needed all came from the vet's office, but when your pet moves into a high-octane plan of care, it turns out you can go to the same gas station where you get yourself fueled up. (At least you can do this in the state where I live.)

2. Pet medications are another variable in the look-alike packaging maze. Since this is a process-oriented blog, I'll invite you to look at the photo of Daisy's meds again. Notice how the one that came from the vet's office (on the right) has the distinctive pet silhouettes? I think this helps prevent distracted, stressed-out, and yes, tearful, pet owners from inadvertently taking their pet's medicine. The prescription on the left-hand side came from the real pharmacy, where my family gets our prescriptions filled. You can see that I flagged it to help me see--from a distance and maybe without my glasses on--that these pills belong to the dog. It would be better if all meds dispensed for canine use were placed in bottles like the one on the right.

3. Separate pets' medications from the family's stash. Maybe you are inherently less error-prone than I am, but the consequences of a mix-up could be huge. Separating look-alike containers is a stronger risk reduction strategy than simply trying to "be more careful."

Especially when you're crying.


Nancy said...

Barb, so sorry to hear about Daisy. I will call you tomorrow.
Nancy G.

Lisa said...

Good point about the look alike packaging. Hope Daisy gets better.

Margaret Dixon said...

Momma, great article like always... I had to laugh when I saw the picture as that does look like any regular old pill bottle that someone could just scoop up.

I have to agree with you on the crying part though :'-(

I'll talk to you tomorrow! Love ya!

Kristine said...

So sorry about Daisy! I know well the pain of watching your beloved animal face illness and sadly, their end.

I remember a patient calling me that had confused her dogs medication with her own. In this case though she gave her medication to her dog.

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