Avoiding Medication Errors after a Hospital Stay

13791723_mAccording to a recent article in the Harvard Health Letter, medication error following a hospital stay is a very big problem in the U.S. today. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that half of patients experienced medication errors at home during the first month after being discharged from the hospital. There are many reasons for the high rate of error, and healthcare providers are not doing everything they can to ensure a smooth transition for patients, but there are several thing that you can do to minimize your risk of medication errors after a hospital stay.

  • When you go to the hospital, take all of your medications with you or take a list of all of the medications and supplements that you currently take. If you were admitted during an emergency, have a friend or loved on bring the list as soon as possible.
  • Make sure a friend or loved one is with you when you are given your discharge instructions and that they understand the instructions. This is especially important if you are on pain killers or other medication that can affect your memory when you are discharged.
  • Do not hesitate to ask questions. Make sure you understand all of the instructions and how to take your medications before you go home. If your medication regimen will be different from what it was before you went in, ask why. And, be sure to ask if you need to discontinue any of the medications you were previously taking to avoid unwanted interactions with new medications.
  • Ask about any side effects or symptoms you should be watching for when you get home.
  • If you experience any new symptoms or signs of an adverse reaction, call your doctor right away.
  • Remember to take your medication and track what you already taken using a system that works for you. This could be a chart, pillbox, or even software with an alarm that alerts you when it is time to take your medication and what you should be taking.
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