Community pharmacists are drug therapy experts. They may be your first point of contact with the health care system. People frequently visit their pharmacist more often than their doctor. Take advantage of your pharmacist’s unique knowledge and skills. This member of your health care team is highly trained to help manage medication therapies.
What’s more, one study of hospital admissions suggested about one in six was related to medication. Checking with a pharmacist might have identified a drug issue and prevented the need for hospitalization.
Many types of problems are related to medications. These include:
All of these problems can be avoided or solved by having a pharmacist review your medications. A pharmacist may discover conflicts with medication and recommend improvements. This can prevent problems related to your medications and help you better understand your health.
If you have concerns or would like your pharmacist to do a full medication review, phone or stop by the pharmacy to set up an appointment. Setting aside half an hour of time will help both you and your pharmacist.
A typical medication review involves asking questions about your medications, medical conditions and lifestyle. Together, you can look at your prescription and over-the-counter medications, and any other alternative therapies you use, such as herbal products. You may also be asked about smoking and alcohol use, as these can affect your health and some medications.
Once made aware of your medical conditions, your pharmacist can look for medication interactions and discuss potential side effects.
Some medications have specific directions to ensure you get the greatest benefit. This might involve taking it with or without food, or limiting certain activities. Your pharmacist can explain these directions.
If concerns about your medication therapy exist, your pharmacist may contact the appropriate health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, or dietitian. You might also make an appointment on your own. The next step will depend on the issue. Your pharmacist can list any concerns with your medications. At your next doctor’s appointment, take the medication review with you and discuss it.
You may wish to ask the pharmacist about your medications during the interview. It is wise to ask these questions any time you begin a new medication.
If you use a device such as an inhaler, eye drops or a blood glucose monitor, bring it to the review. The pharmacist can check that you are using it properly. A review can also be done of any logs you keep, such as blood glucose and blood pressure readings.
If you have trouble remembering to take your medications, your pharmacist can give you ‘memory’ ideas. For instance, you might set a timer. Your pharmacist could also put your medications into bubble packing that shows which ones to take at what time. Taking medications regularly and at the correct times will provide the best overall effect.
Doing a medication review develops a relationship between you and your pharmacist. Your pharmacist becomes familiar with your medications and conditions. When you return to the pharmacy or phone with a question, knowing your situation will help in assisting you. By being familiar with your medications, your pharmacist is better able to monitor your drug therapy. Possible problems can be identified and harm avoided.
ERIK stands for Emergency Response Information Kit. It includes a complete list of emergency contacts, health information, medications, and medical conditions. (For the idea to work, you must keep this information updated.) The kit is placed on your fridge. A sticker on your front door tells medical personnel about it. This is an easy way to provide emergency responders with information critical to your care.
For information about this kit, go to:
Click on Medication Card. Select About ERIK
Health care providers in a hospital often reconcile medications when a patient is admitted. However, medications do get missed, so always carry an updated list of your current medications, medical conditions, allergies and emergency contact information.
Once your pharmacist has reviewed your medications, keep the information in your wallet or purse. As well, put it in a place in your home where it is easy to find.
When you are sent home from hospital, doctors often provide a list of medications. When you take it to the pharmacy, your pharmacist can check the list and discuss any changes with you. This process, called medication reconciliation, is one way to reduce the risk of problems after returning home.
When moving from one health care provider to another, always do a thorough review of your medications and medical conditions. Your new caregiver needs a complete list and an understanding of your condition and treatment needs.
Any time you leave hospital, involve your pharmacist in looking for concerns and ensuring your medication list is complete. Your pharmacist can work with your health care team to improve any issues that may arise.
Your pharmacist can help you reach your personal health care goals, so you are more satisfied with your medications and health. Do not hesitate to make an appointment.