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Providing Care

Preventing Medication Errors

Article Highlights

  • Track your loved ones medications
  • Keep a medication list for the physician
  • Communicate with the pharmacist

Rx for Success
When you fill a new prescription, also give the pharmacist a copy of your loved one’s medication list. The pharmacy may keep an electronic copy of this list. The next time you’re there, you can ask for a printout to make sure that the information is up-to-date.

Check that the prescription the pharmacist gives you has the same name and instructions that the doctor provided. Doctors have notoriously bad handwriting, so you want to make sure that the pharmacist was able to read the prescription properly.

If you have any questions about the medication you’ve just received, ask the pharmacist. You might double-check how to take the drug and ask about possible interactions with food, alcohol and other medications.

Going the Distance
If you’re caring for your loved one long distance, you may not be able to attend every doctor appointment, pick up every prescription and monitor daily pill taking. But you still can maintain a dialogue with your loved one’s health care providers and pay attention to possible side effects. Don’t hesitate to raise concerns and ask questions.

If you’ve hired a geriatric care manager or home health aide, ask that person to follow the guidelines outlined here and to keep detailed records that he or she can share with you on a regular basis.

For more tips to prevent medication errors, visit the Institute for Safe Medication Practices website.

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