Remember to keep a list of medications in case of an emergency


Staff Reporter

Do you know what medications you take and the dosage?

If you are taking medications, it’s a good idea to keep an ongoing list of medications with you and in your home in the event of an emergency or hospitalization.

At Regional West Medical Center, admitted patients will be asked several times about their medications as doctors and nurses try to protect patients from drug interactions, Nancy Sloan, assistant director of clinical services said.

“When patients are admitted, they will be asked by the admitting nurse about their medications,” Sloan said. “They will also be asked by medicine reconciliation nurses about their at-home medications as the nurses attempt to reconcile those with their in-hospital medications. They may be asked again by their doctor or before a procedure is started.”

As part of patient safety initiatives, Regional West Medical Center added two specially-trained medicine reconciliation nurses about three years ago. Medication reconciliation nurses are specifically tasked with speaking to patients about their medications in an effort to prevent drug interactions or adverse reactions to medications. This fall, Sloan said, Regional West added four more medicine reconciliation nurses.

“Medicine reconciliation nurses work with patients to get a list of medications that is as complete and accurate as possible,” Sloan said, which may include consulting with pharmacists or doctors about prescriptions prescribed to a specific patient.

Marilyn Stoddard, a discharge nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), said many patients don’t know their medications, their dosages and other relevant information.

“A lot of patients say ‘Well, the doctor knows,” but it is important that you know,’” she said.

Your medications may also be important in a diagnosis, Kim Meininger, clinical coordinator for surgical floors, said. Doctors can evaluate if certain medical conditions may be caused by a drug interaction or adverse effect with the right information. She said it is also good if patient’s stick with one pharmacy for their prescription needs. It makes it easier for medical professionals to obtain a list of your medications if you are in a condition that you can’t answer questions or do not know your information. Your pharmacist will also regularly be watching for potential drug interactions.

Sloan, Stoddard and Meininger suggest that people keep a medication list. You should also keep your list updated and current. A friend or relative should also be aware of your lists location in the event of an emergency.

“The key is that you know the names of your medications and the dosages,” Sloan said. “It is important to update lists as they are prescribed.”

At Regional West Medical Center, patients can receive wallet cards that they can use to document their prescription medications. They suggested that lists be kept on the refrigerator, where many EMS providers may look for a list, in your wallet or purse, and in a car. Computerized medical records lists are also a tool that computer-savvy people may be interested in.

Medication lists should also include over-the-counter medications, including vitamins, eye/ear/nose drops, Some often-forgotten prescription medications include drops, contraceptives and hormone therapies and inhalers.

People should also consider including a few other things with their medications list, include a list of current medical conditions, information regarding allergies, names and phone numbers of physicians and emergency contacts.

Stoddard said she recommends that people also take medication lists when they travel, as well as other relevant information.

“It could save your life,” she said.

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