It’s good to ask…about your medications

This year, we are doing a fantastic series of workshops in the community to promote medication safety. The workshop is titled It’s Good to Ask about your Medications based on the It’s Good to Ask Program which encourages patients and consumers to participate more actively in their health care. Given that the average person only spends 12 hours per year with health professionals, it is essential that they are equipped to manage their own health for the rest of the 364.5 days.*

Our key messages include

  • Why its good to ask questions about your medications: What medication am I  taking? Why am I taking this medication? How do I take this medication?
  • Ways to ask questions to get the answers you need.

Our presentation to the Health Watch Program was very well received and we learned a great deal from the participants too.

  • There were about 16 participants, many of whom listened while attending to important business such as taking weight and blood pressure readings and receiving massage sessions.
  • They were an eager and engaged audience asking questions and making insightful comments through out the session. For example:
    • Do doctors keep as uptodate as pharmacists?
    • What does it mean to take medication with food? Does it have to be a full meal or can it be a snack such as a muffin?
    • Are vitamins better absorbed in powder rather than tablet form?
  • We learned that the group actively supports members in taking charge of medication safety through:
  • supply of medication booklets which members fill and carry
  • keeping uptodate medication history records at the centre
  • supply of vials used to store a dose of all of a patient’s drugs and corresponding list to be kept in the fridge. Emergency responders would be able to find this vial if the patient was unconscious.
vial for emergency medication

Vials for storing medication accessible to emergency responders if patient is unconscious

  • Despite being a group that interacts with pharmacists regularly, they picked valuable points. For example, they were not aware that all prescriptions dispensed in B.C. are tracked in the PharmaNet system and patients can walk into any pharmacy and the staff there will have access to their information.
  • They recognized that
    • pharmacists are the most handy and accessible health care profession : “it is easier to talk to a pharmacist than a doctor”
    • pharmacists are a good source of information about the recommended daily requirements for vitamins and other supplements
    • 811 is the number to call for non emergency health information
    • the patient is the most important member of the healthcare team.
*Barlow, J. Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Health, School of
Health & Social Sciences, Coventry University, May 2003.
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