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Be Safe: Know What Medicines You Are Taking

The Washington Patient Safety Coalition, a program of the Seattle-based Foundation for Health Care Quality, has recently initiated the public education campaign My Medicine List. Aimed at improving patient safety, My Medicine List encourages consumers to make and keep a list of all medicines they use, and to share the list with health care providers—doctors, pharmacists, dentists, and others-- at every visit.

Too often a patient gets medications from a number of different health care providers, and that information is not shared among the providers. In addition, many people take supplements as well as prescription medications, and this can lead to harmful interactions. Keeping a list is an easy and effective way to prevent errors and promote safe care.

Over half of all drug interactions involve a nonprescription medication, and most doctors don’t ask their patients about supplements or nonprescription medications. With 82-percent of all adults and 56-percent of all children taking at least one daily medication, it is no wonder that thousands of people each year are affected by medication errors.

“My Medicine List is a practical, efficient, cost-effective tool patients can arm themselves with so they know the medicines they are taking are safe in combination with other medications and supplements,” says Maxine Hayes, MD, Washington State Health Officer. “Health care is complicated, but My Medicine List gives patients something specific and easy to share with all their health care professionals.”

The cornerstone of the public education campaign is a website, My Medicine List. The resources available on this website include information about what a ‘medicine’ is and why keeping a list is important, and a choice of templates to create and maintain medicine lists. Visit this site to learn more about why ‘medicines’ aren’t limited to prescriptions, and how to make a list for yourself and your loved ones.

“I fully support the My Medicine List project in Washington,” says Deborah Harper, MD, President, Washington State Medical Association Executive Committee. “Keeping a list of all the medicines taken by you, your children, or other loved ones is an easy way to avoid medication-related problems.”

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