All of us, at some point of time in our lives, will require medications to prevent or treat illness. However, medications that are incorrectly stored, prescribed, dispensed, or administered can cause serious harm. Unsafe medication practices and errors are the main cause of injury and preventable harm in healthcare systems worldwide. Across the world, the cost associated with medication errors has been estimated at $42 billion USD annually.
What Is World Patient Safety Day?
It occurs annually on September 17 to raise awareness and drive worldwide intervention in prioritising the safety of patients. The campaign aims to promote safe medication practices to avoid medication errors and prevent medication-related harm. Stakeholders are encouraged to take action early on in key areas related to medication-related harm, including high-risk situations and the use of multiple medications.
Mistakes can happen at various stages of the medication use process. These can occur due to factors such as poor medication systems and human factors. In addition, staff shortages and fatigue can affect the administration, monitoring, and prescribing of medications. Medication errors may also be caused by poor communication between doctors and patients. This can result in severe patient harm, disability, and even death.
Despite the various interventions that have been developed to address the issue of medication errors, the implementation of these programs is still not widely supported. To ensure that the actions taken are sustained, the World Health Organisation has identified ‘Medication Without Harm’ as the theme of World Patient Safety Day 2022.
If you have any concerns regarding the risks and possible side effects of your medication, consult your doctor at My Family Clinic.
What Is Patient Safety Culture?
It refers to the degree in which an organisation’s culture promotes and reflects patient safety. It takes into account the norms, beliefs, and values that healthcare practitioners share and how they influence the organisation’s behaviour.
Read more about patient safety: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/patient-safety
Why Is Safety Important?
Preventing patient harm is a public health concern. Everyone has a role to play in advancing safe healthcare.
Some studies suggest that as many as 400,000 deaths occur in the United States every year as a result of errors or preventable harm. While not every case of harm results in death, they can have long-term impacts on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or relationships.
Firstly, patients should know their medication and keep a list. Having an up-to-date, written list of their medication is useful in reducing the likelihood of errors when requesting a repeat prescription from their doctor and during emergencies. This list can be shown to healthcare professionals to check that the medications are effective and safe.
To fill out your medication list, have all your medications in front of you. Include all medications that you take regularly and occasionally and note the strength of each medication (e.g. 50mg), as well as the quantity to take each day (e.g. 2 tablets) and the time (e.g. at night). All medications include:
- Prescription medication including inhalers, patches, injections, creams, eye drops and any other prescribed products
- Over-the-counter medication
- Vitamins and other supplements
- Herbal or alternative medication
The list should also include your allergies and contact details of your family doctor and pharmacist. Bring it with you when attending any healthcare appointment, including visits to your family doctor, your pharmacist, your dentist, and a hospital.
A tip is to keep a digital copy of this list on your phone. Alternatively, you can take a photo of your medication with the labels clearly shown.
Speak to your doctor at My Family Clinic if you have any questions regarding your medication.
It is also vital to keep the list updated. Before leaving your appointment or being discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse to explain any changes to your medication. Find out which are the medications to start, continue, or stop taking.
When adding a medication, ask your doctor if it can interact with your other medications.
While most people can take medication without any issues, all medications have some risks and some people can develop side effects.
Open communication with your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse is necessary to ensure that you are getting the most from your medication. If your medication is hard to take or it seems to be causing side effects, talk to your doctor about changing medications that will suit you better.
Secondly, patients should make sure that they are using their medications the right way. It is crucial to follow the instructions that come with the medication carefully. For prescribed medication, the dose instructions are on the pharmacy label. For medication that are bought over the counter at a pharmacy, the instructions are on the package.
Take note of when to take your medication and how much you should take each time.
Remember not to share your medication with anyone else or take medication that is meant for someone else. You should also take medications as recommended by your doctor.
Read more about medication safety: https://www.moh.gov.sg/hpp/all-healthcare-professionals/guidelines/GuidelineDetails/medication-safety-practice-guidelines-and-tools
What Can Healthcare Professionals Do?
Healthcare professionals can enhance patient safety by adopting safe practices in administering care, such as providing patients access to medical records and notes. They can also directly involve patients and their caregivers in the decision-making process when delivering healthcare services. Their role is to ensure that patients clearly understand their options regarding treatment and medication.
Healthcare professionals should be familiar with each medication and encourage patients to keep an up-to-date list of medications. It is also their responsibility to check that patients know how to use their medications correctly.
Finally, healthcare professionals should be able to discuss medications that patients are taking and answer any questions that they may have.
At Alliance, patient health and safety are integral to all that we do. We are constantly striving to offer medication and medical services that you can depend on.
Read more about medicine safety tips: https://www.pfizer.com/products/medicine-safety/tips
How Are Medications Prescribed During Teleconsultation?
Consult your doctor via AllyTele on the HeyAlly app for medical advice if you are feeling unwell. During your teleconsultation, all prescribed medications will be shown to you on the AllyTele screen. You may, at your discretion, determine whether you would like to purchase any of the medications prescribed. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your prescribed medications.
Please note that cancellation order of medication will not be entertained once confirmation is made.