Thursday, June 08, 2006

Talk about low-tech medication control

…Laura Landro, writing in The Wall Street Journal (May 23, 2006), again wonders about those 7,000 hospitalized patients a year who will die because they took the wrong pill.

…Under federal regs, as of last January, hospitals are supposed to have systems to “reconcile” medications—meaning make sure the patients get the right thing, both in terms of what was ordered and in terms of everything else the patient is taking.

…This means collecting a drug and allergy history and checking for interactions.

…The last time HA was in the hospital, they didn’t even check for allergies anymore—they just asked you on the spot. What if you were out of it?

…They are also putting this off on patients and families, who need to keep better med records.

…Eventually this info will be online or in a hospital’s computer if you have been there before (the latter is true now in some hospitals).

…But for now, some hospitals are issuing wallet cards for you to write down your drug record and carry it with you.

…Another program, Vial of Life (, offers forms you can fill out and store in an empty pill bottle in the fridge for the paramedics to find. Yeah, that ought to do it.

…If that doesn’t sound too lame to you, there are other places to get a form, but wouldn’t a piece of paper do as well?

…If you are in the hospital, things can go wrong. A drug you take at home may not be offered. Or the hospital can forget to tell you to restart a medicine when you get home. Or the hospital doctor can send you home with a drug you are already taking and you may take it twice.

…HA once wrote about care across the venues—what happens when you leave the hospital for home or rehab or vice-versa. She concluded this care and continuity was minimal.

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