According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “82 percent of American adults take at least one medication and 29 percent take five or more.” With medications found in so many homes, medication safety is an important topic for patients, their families, and the community.
These medication safety tips can help prevent medication errors at home and the hospital.
Know your medical history, including past surgeries, past illnesses, chronic illnesses, past medications, medication allergies, and current medications.
Take your medications at the right time and take the correct dose. This may require setting an alarm or buying a pillbox. It’s also important to remember to refill medications before you run out.
Keep your medications up high and in a safe place that’s out of reach for children and pets. It’s also essential to store all medications, including over-the-counter medicines, in their original packaging and with the child safety caps in place.
When you are in the hospital, talk to the nurses and doctors. Make sure they know your medication allergies and which medications you are currently taking. Also, before taking medications being administered to you in the hospital, confirm with your nurse who you are and that you are being given the correct medication at the proper time. Then, before you head home from the hospital, please review all the new medications with your doctor and make sure you understand the correct way to take them and any possible side effects.
When giving children medication, use a medication cup or syringe because spoons are not an accurate measuring device. It’s also essential to provide them with their medicine over a sink and clean up spills immediately.
When in doubt about any medication your child has ingested, call poison control. For immediate emergencies contact 911 or take your child to your local emergency department. Please keep the number for poison control in your phone or on your fridge so you can access it quickly and easily.
5 Moments of Safety
The World Health Organization (WHO) developed a 5 Moments of Safety campaign to help individuals and families protect themselves against medication errors and adverse drug events (ADEs). During each of these five moments, a patient or caregiver can stop, ask questions, and help prevent adverse effects.
What is the name of this medication and what is it for?
What are the risks and possible side-effects?
Is there another way of treating my condition?
Have I told my health professional about my allergies and other health conditions?
How should I store this medication??
When should I take this medication and how much should I take each time?
How should I take the medication?
Is there anything related to food and drink that I should know while taking this medication?
What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?
What should I do if I have side-effects?
Do I really need any other medication?
Have I told my health professional about the medications I am already taking?
Can this medication interact with my other medications?
What should I do if I suspect an interaction?
Will I be able to manage multiple medications correctly?
Do I keep a list of all my medications?
How long should I take each medication?
Am I taking any medications I no longer need?
Does a health professional check my medications regularly?
How often should my medications be reviewed?
When should I stop each medication?
Should any of my medications not be stopped suddenly?
What should I do if I run out of medication?
If I have to stop my medication due to an unwanted effect, where should I report this?
What should I do with leftover or expired medications?
These questions can be asked in many different settings to help keep you and your loved ones safe during visits to your primary health care facility or pharmacy, when you are admitted to and discharged from a health care facility, and when you receive treatment and care at home.
As a part of the WHO 5 Moments of Safety campaign, the WHO has developed the WHO Medsafe App. This app allows a patient or caregiver to select whichever moment of safety is appropriate for the given situation, such as “Starting a medication” when a medication is first prescribed. From there, you’re prompted to answer five questions appropriate for that moment of safety.