Published on October 21, 2016 at 14:43 / Updated on April 22, 2021 at 23:58

When medication is prescribed for a health problem, it’s important to take it as prescribed in order to reap all of its benefits. However, many patients make mistakes when taking their medication and often these errors could be avoided. Researchers recruited 851 patients who had been hospitalized in the United States for heart failure or a heart attack. Half of the patients were given the usual directions regarding their medication, while the other half was given additional instruction from a hospital pharmacist. In the month following their return home, 432 patients (i.e. more than half) made one or more errors when taking their medication. Some of the common errors included missed or incorrect doses, stopping a treatment before instructed, and taking medication more or less often than prescribed. In the standard follow-up group, 407 errors were considered “clinically important,” compared to 370 in the group that had received counselling from a pharmacist. This counselling proved most helpful to patients with lower literacy, those with more complex medication regimens, and those who had cognitive problems. Managing medication can prove complex for laypersons, especially when not feeling at our best. This study suggests that a hospital pharmacist’s intervention helps patients take their medication correctly once they get home. If you didn’t meet with a pharmacist at the hospital, or if you have additional questions once you get home, don’t hesitate to speak to your community pharmacist. These health professionals can answer your questions. Ask them for a list of your medications, and keep this list in your wallet so you can show it to all your physicians, especially your family doctor. Lastly, it’s best to get all your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy so that the pharmacist can have a complete picture of your medication profile.

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