ARTICLES / General /
Prescription Medication Safety: The Caregiver's Role/
Over two million Americans
experience adverse drug reactions from prescription
medication each year. Patients develop complications
from these medications when doctors, pharmacists, and
health care professionals ignore precautionary measures
and lack communication skills. Prescription medication
safety is crucial to prevent patients from suffering
adverse drug reactions or death. Caregivers can become
involved in preventing these errors.
Properly prescribing and administering medication means
knowing all the facts. Caregivers can actively prevent
allergic reactions, crossover reactions, adverse drug
reactions and overdoses by educating themselves.
(Crossover reactions occur when a care recipient takes
incompatible medications). Knowing all the facts
includes knowing the medical history of their care
recipient and informing the health care provider.
Make sure to provide complete medical records to the
health care provider. Records can be sent by a previous
provider or brought by the caregiver or patient. Medical
history records should contain surgeries, immunizations,
allergies and family health history (i.e. diabetes,
colon cancer). It is also important to notify the health
care provider of any social changes. Social changes
include: sleeping patterns, work schedules, and special
diets. This will assist the health care provider in
choosing a compatible medication.
Following the directions of the medication is imperative
to ensure safety. Read all written hand out material and
instructions carefully. Dispense only the recommended
dosage at one time and finish the entire prescription if
instructed. All prescribed drugs should have a physician
package insert and provide proper labeling. The U.S.
Food and Drug Administration requires prescription
pharmaceutical manufactures to offer patients certain
information about the drug. This insert should include
how to safely administer the drug, possible side
effects, and when to take it. Find out if the medication
should be taken before or after eating, with a glass of
water, and if any foods or drinks should be avoided. The
label will also indicate if any activities like driving
should be avoided due to drowsiness while on the
medication. If any information is unclear, contact the
pharmacy or health care provider.