October 11, 2014

Aids to Help Prevent Prescription Errors

In our meeting last evening, requested by Brenda, we had everyone in attendance plus several from Dr. Tom's group and Dr. Tom. Brenda was still agitated about what had happened and very vocal about what should be done.

Tim started the meeting by showing the slides I had prepared from my blogs and this article. Please read the link to the article as this blog would be too long if I included all the discussion.

First, when you have a hard-copy prescription, if it's hand-written, make sure you can read it.

Second, when you pick up a prescription, check the name to make sure it's for you.

Third, make sure that you are paying the lowest price available.

Fourth, if your doctor is changing your dosage, or changing your prescription in any way, be particularly careful to look at the pill bottle when you receive it.

Fifth, every time you receive a new prescription, or a new refill of any drug, look carefully at the bottle to confirm that the information on the label matches up with what you know you were prescribed.

Sixth, read the pharmacy insert, and know the fillers, dyes, and ingredients used in the medication you are taking.

Then from this blog, I had this list of tips. Read the blog at your convenience.

Keep a list of your current medications with you at all times.

Cross-check and update your medicine list with your provider at every visit.

Ask for an updated list of your medications and prescriptions before leaving your doctor's office.

If you're tech savvy, use the practice patient portal.

Cross-check every medicine after you pick it up against the prescription your provider wrote.

Don't hesitate to speak up if you think a prescription is wrong.

Finally, don't forget that so called "natural" supplements are medicines too.

To the above points or tips, I had added the following:

#1. If the doctor e-prescribes, ask for a copy of what was sent to the pharmacy.

#2. If there are questions, please talk to the doctor before leaving.

There was a lot of discussion on the points and tips provided and I had printouts available and handed them out.

Dr. Tom then made several comments and had Tim go through the slides a second time. He said he appreciates patients that ask questions about their medications and what the side effects are. He said that sometimes he is not fully aware of all the side effects and will hand write the name of the medication(s) so that the patient can look them up on the computer. He also gives them the URL for the WebMD site and at least one other site. He also gives them one or two other medications that can be substituted so that they can look them up.

He does ask them to call him back within 48 hours (during office hours, of course) and discuss the medication(s) they would use. He did say that sometimes he tells the patient that they should start the medication(s) immediately because of the injury or illness and to call if they have questions after starting the medication(s).

He then asked which pharmacies were being used and there were five different pharmacies. He understood the VA pharmacy because of the veterans in the group and the second pharmacy because Medicare recommends people on Medicare use this pharmacy. He then stated the second pharmacy will provide a list of medications used by each patient served by them if asked.

The other three he was not sure they would provide a list except at year end, but it would not hurt to ask if needed.

He commented on Brenda's situation and stated that computers can lead to errors when doctors do not use care and close other patient's accounts and make sure they are in the correct patient for e-prescribing. He said he made this embarrassing error one time and has since made sure he was in the correct account before hitting the send key. He admitted that some doctors are in such a hurry that they don't check the account. He then asked how many used or had access to their patient portal. Only nine of us did and Dr. Tom said this was less then he would like to see.

Dr. Tom concluded that he appreciated the discussion about prescriptions and prescription errors and hoped this topic could be had again in about 18 months. Or he said could include more groups as he felt the topic was needed. Errors do happen and everyone needs to be aware of this.

Tim asked if there was anything that needed discussion and said the meeting was over. Discussions continued and Tim put the slides back up for a few that had questions.

Dr. Tom asked Tim and me to talk with him before leaving. He had heard about our meeting in November with a group about a half hour's drive south of us. He had been asked to come and had told the doctor that he would since he knew the people that would be presenting to his group. He asked Tim if he could read the information that would be presented as he knew the doctor and wanted to be prepared if the doctor had questions. He said the doctor follows the ADA a little closer than he possibly should, but he knew we did not and felt this would be a good time to teach the doctor a few good pointers.

Dr. Tom asked if the topic we had presented could be added. Tim said the material already may be too long, but we could check. Tim then suggested that maybe we could invite them to meet with the groups in a meeting next April and have this be one of the topics. Dr. Tom said he would bring this up after our meeting with them in November. Tim said the topics should be ready in another week and he would let him review them. With that, we closed the room for the night.

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