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Medicinewise week

21 August 2017

August 21-27 is Medicinewise week and this year's theme is Medicine misuse can happen to anyone. Bendigo Clinical Pharmacy Lead Adelaide explains how to keep safe while on medication.

As pharmacists one of our main goals is making sure patients are able to use their medications safely and wisely. By educating patients about their medicines we can empower them to be more involved in their own care and to limit the chances of medicine misuse. Medicine misuse could include taking medication at the wrong time or or the wrong dose, sharing medication with family and friends, mixing medication with illegal drugs or alcohol, or mixing different medications that may cause adverse effects.

Patients who are educated about their medical conditions and treatments are more likely to achieve better health outcomes and to use their medication appropriately. Medicinewise week supports patients to discuss their treatment with their doctor and to ask five important questions.

  • Do I really need this test or procedure?
  • What are the risks?
  • Are there simpler or safer options?
  • What happens if I don't do anything?
  • What are the costs?

As pharmacists we try to ensure patients understand the importance of taking their medication, and what may happen if they cease treatment without discussing it with their doctor. We also discuss possible side effects and what patients should do if symptoms of an adverse reaction do occur.

Admission to and discharge from hospital is a high risk period for patients. Mistakes can occur in the charting of their medication on admission, and there can be many changes to their medications by discharge. Medications on discharge can include high risk drugs such as opioids for pain relief and sleeping tablets. It is important that patients know how to use these safely and not to share these with family or friends. Encouraging patients to keep a current medication list can prevent many of these medication errors.  Medicinewise provide and app, and can supply paper copies of medicine lists for patients.

Although the topic of medicine misuse is key to pharmacy, educating patients about their conditions and self-management is something all healthcare workers can get involved with.

Tips for using your own medicine wisely are:

  • Get involved with your own healthcare by discussing it with your gp or pharmacist
  • Read medication labels and packaging
  • Don't always trust Dr Google
  • Follow directions on your medication and ask if it doesn't make sense
  • Ask before stopping a medication

Pharmacy will be promoting Medicinewise week to the public, handing out medicine lists and encouraging patients to return unwanted or out of date medications.