Reducing medication errors

Kate Swanton, shares her top five tips to help make taking your medications at home easier.

Reducing medication error

Did you know that medication error is one on the top leading causes of hospital admissions? It is so easy to forget your medicine or remember what goes with what, when or how – it can be complicated! Feros Care’s Health & Wellness Manager, Kate Swanton, shares her top five tips to help make taking your medications at home easier.

Take medications correctly
It almost goes without saying that you should take your medications exactly as prescribed by your own doctor – this means the correct dose, at the correct time and in the correct manner e.g. on a full or empty stomach or in the morning or evening etc. Read the medicine packaging each time, so you are not just relying on your memory.

An easy way to make sure you are getting all of your medication in the right dose is to have them prepared in blister packs (by the pharmacist) or by preparing them yourself for the week in advance.

It’s also important you understand why you are taking the medications and are aware of any possible side effects.

Set reminders
The trickiest part about medication – especially short course prescriptions such as antibiotics – is remembering to take it. You can set an alarm or reminder on your clock, watch or mobile phone. However, another great tool to have at home is Feros Care’s LifeLink Medication Reminder. As the name suggests, up to six reminders can be set into the base alarm which sits in your living area or kitchen. At a pre-determined time, a voice reminder will let you know that it’s time to take your medication.

Talk about their effectiveness
Just because you’ve been prescribed a medication doesn’t mean that you have to take it and wait and see what happens.

If you think a medication is making you feel unwell or simply isn’t working, it’s important that you speak to your doctor, carer or aged care provider. The sooner you do, the sooner you can find a solution which works best for your body.

Don’t experiment
Make sure you take medication and supplements, which have been prescribed or recommended, just for you. Don’t take your friend’s or expired medications, as you never know how they’ll react with your body or other medication you are taking.

This also applies to vitamins, herbs and supplements bought over the counter. Some of them can spoil the effectiveness of your other medication.

Record what you take
It’s a good idea that you write down what medication you are taking, why and how much. That way if a family member or carer needs to help you with your medication, a reference is easily available.

To make ordering your medication easier, the Federal Government has established the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR). If you choose to register, all of your prescribed medication will be automatically listed on your PCEHR and can be accessed by health care professionals.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    18th Sep 2014
    I was given medications that were NOT supposed to be used together and even through the Dr prescribed and KNEW that I was taking them they almost killed me but the Dr would not take responsibility for this.

    I want to know WHY patients are not told about dangers, I know ALL medications have down sides BUT when it is a KNOW fact that they should NOT be taken together we MUST be told !

    I guess they just all bury their mistakes
    Ageing but not Old
    18th Sep 2014
    To Plan B: I had a similar type of problem once: A dentist I had been attending for a long time knew I was intolerant of Codeine, and usually wrote post-treatment Rx's accordingly. However, one time he must have been distracted & wrote the script for a med that didn't exist (i.e. like Panadol Max #3 etc). I went to the pharmacy down the street from his rooms. The pharmacist filled lots of scripts from him, and PRESUMED he meant (i.e. Panadol Max #2) and issued that to me, without checking with him or me! I knew that he knew about it, so I didn't think twice about it, until about 10 minutes after taking my first dose at home, I began to feel nauseous & vomit; this continued into the evening. When I wasn't in the bathroom, I was lying on my bed feeling somewhat dizzy. Next day I asked the pharmacist what he'd issued & he explained about the 'mis-written' Rx. I rang the dentist who PROFUSELY apologised. I rang the Pharmacy Registration Board in my state, and lodged a complaint about him. This went on his record; he was notified of the error, but I never heard from him. Good t;hing I was actually allergic to it, or I could have died.
    Ageing but not Old
    18th Sep 2014
    To all readers:
    NPS MedicineWise has a good website, including a medications help-line, but they also have a smart-phone app (i have iPhone, but I believe they have Android also, ? Windows) which is FREE and has pretty much what you need; Listing your meds with brand name, active ingredient, form of taking, how much to use, how often is it used, what condition is it used for, date started, date to review, date to stop, and special instructions or notes. Also, your details including things that could influence how a med affects you, allergies & prev problems; emergency contact including GP & regular Pharmacist and Alarms you can set at different times for each med you have to take. It's brilliant.