Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Medication safety: It's hard to be (a) patient!

Patients for a Moment is a new blogging round-up, one that collects stories from patients and people interested in the experiences of patients. I joined in this week and shared a short piece about what safer prescribing would look like. There's a lot going on with medication safety in other venues as well. The FDA just heard recommendations from an advisory panel, and it's looking like consumers are going to get some help in managing risks associated with acetaminophen.

A few weeks ago, I listened to an excellent webcast about medication management and safety aimed at health care professionals (click here to go to the link to hear the re-broadcast). In the U.S., approximately 25% of all reported medical errors involve medications. The most important "take-away" I heard occurred when Peter Angood, a physician leader in the patient safety movement (someone intimately familiar with medication safety risk points), shared how his drug history had been botched during a recent outpatient procedure.

The communication infrastructure surrounding medication use is so poor that the system breaks down for patient safety experts with relatively uncomplicated medication profiles undergoing scheduled diagnostic procedures? Yes. Routinely. Bet on it. Good luck to the rest of us.

Dr. Angood's story serves as yet another "call to action" as people in the United States consider how to spend $20 billion dollars to make healthcare IT serve patients and providers in meaningful ways.

Here's the take-away for now: While we await better integration of electronic medication data, go ahead and establish an electronic medication record of your own. ISMP's Consumer Med Safety website, in conjunction with iGuard, offers a free MedSafetyAlert! service for listing and tracking your medications. It's easy to use, and iGuard's medication platform is being adopted by larger electronic medical record systems, meaning that the data you enter will likely "flow through" to more sophisticated e-health record keeping systems (maintained by you, your caregivers, or a healthcare facility).

Based on the information you enter into MedSafetyAlert!, you'll receive tailored alerts and monthly summaries via e-mail. I've used the service for several months, and found it to be simple, non-invasive, and easy-to-access.

1 comment:

Frosty said...

Wow - I'd love to hear that story about Dr. Angood. You'd think a little flag might end up on his chart ("How about we be careful with this guy?") if they had any idea who he was.

Makes me thankful to be a patient who is also a nurse, so I have at least some measure of awareness regarding my meds.

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