Healthwatch: Reconciling Medications for Better Care

The Joint Commission's 2008 patient safety goals include accuracy in patient ID and reconciling all medications, whether prescribed or not.

"Today people are taking a lot of herbal medicines and they may have several doctors that are prescribing medications for them," said David Bonner, director of nurses for Rush Foundation Hospital. "It's very important when they come in to the hospital or the emergency department that they bring every medicine that they are taking with them."

Bonner says just bringing a list of your medicines is not good enough. The correct spelling and dosages are crucial for attending physicians to know, so they can better meet your need at the hospital or emergency room.

Studies have shown medication errors cause injury and death every year. We don't want that to ever happen in our hospital. We want people to know we're doing all we can to make sure their issues are addressed," said Bonner.

He said patients may be asked to give their name and date of birth when medications are administered to make sure it's the right person. And the extra care will carry over to when a patient is discharged from the hospital.

"You should receive a list of medicines that you are to take that were added while you're in the hospital as well as what you should be taking, what you came in the hospital with," Bonner said.

And Rush encourages both patients and their families to speak up and ask questions whenever you don't understand something.

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