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Five Questions for Safe Medication Management


Medication management is very important to the health and safety of our patients and clients. Here are five questions to assist caregivers with making sure clients and their families stay safe using and being around medications.

Did You Know?

Medication side effects can impact thinking and balance. Often, the professional caregiver is the first, and maybe the only, person to notice that someone doesn’t seem quite “right.” Some commonly used drugs are known to make thinking and balance worse in aging adults. These include:

  • Anticholinergics, which include drugs for overactive bladder, itching and allergies, vertigo and nausea, and certain drugs for nerve pain or depression.
    • Diphenhydramine, or Benadryl, is a commonly used anticholinergic.
  • Sedatives and tranquilizers are often prescribed for sleep or anxiety.
    • Examples include zolpidem and lorazepam, brand names Ambien and Ativan, respectively.

Contact the physician or your supervisor if something doesn’t seem right to you.

Always keep a current list of medications, including supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, as well as dosages. As medications change, update the list. Keep several copies in the house and encourage clients and families to have one on hand when attending any medical appointments.

Do You Have a List?

Always keep a current list of medications, including supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, as well as dosages. As medications change, update the list. Keep several copies in the house and encourage clients and families to have one on hand when attending any medical appointments.

Are These Drugs Okay Together?

Make sure all your client’s medications have been checked for potentially dangerous interactions, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal or vitamin supplements. Educate your client and their family members about how important this step is. Pharmacists are happy to provide information regarding the interactions between medications, free of charge.

Does the Doctor Know?

Make sure all doctors are updated with the complete list of medications used, including over-the-counter medications and supplements. In many instances, more than one physician prescribes medications. Never assume that doctors have a current list. Bring one with you when you attend appointments. You can even bring the bottles in a sealed baggie. Don’t forget OTC medications and supplements.

Are There Medications That Are Expired or Unneeded?

The safest bet for disposal is a community-based drug “take-back” program. Otherwise, almost all medicines can be thrown in the trash. Take extra care in disposing of narcotics: mix unused pills with an undesirable substance, like used coffee grounds, dirt or kitty litter. This makes the drugs less appealing or unrecognizable to people. Encourage families and clients to dispose of these unused medications instead of keeping them around “just in case.”

Medications kept in cabinets can end up being taken accidentally by children, expiring, or even being taken on purpose by others. Many Americans don’t realize the market there is for certain prescription drugs. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

Since 82% of American adults take at least one medication and 29% take five or more, medication management is paramount. Keep your clients safe by providing education to them and their families about what to know and do regarding medications. Axxess’ innovative home care solution provides a convenient medication management tool that is HIPAA-compliant and designed for enterprise organizations.

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