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Managing Medications After Discharge

Imagine you’ve just been discharged from the hospital or just finished an important appointment with your doctor. You’ve received a large list of medications to take with little to no instructions other than to pick your prescription up from the pharmacy. You struggle to pronounce the medication and feel completely in the dark about how the medication should be taken. You start taking your medication and realize that you’ve been taking too little or too much at the wrong times. Unfortunately, this situation is a familiar one for some people and it is known as medication mismanagement. 

Medication mismanagement is a prevalent cause of death in the United States, with thousands dying from it every year. While not always deadly, medication mismanagement can cause serious medical issues for patients taking the medication. It is estimated that around one-third of patients either misuse their medications or do not take them at all. The reason for most misuse is a misunderstanding of dosage requirements, nutrition confusion on what should be taken with the medication, and poor communication between physicians and patients. 

While these statistics are frightening, steps can be taken to reduce the misuse of medications among patients. These steps can reduce medical issues or death caused by medication misuse.

Ask Questions at Appointments or Discharge:

Once you are given your list of medications, do not be afraid to ask questions or to clarify instructions on how to take your medication. Make sure to ask questions about your dosage and frequency of taking it, any side effects, nutrition requirements for your medication, and the duration that you should take your medication. Asking questions and getting clarification can prevent errors with your medications and can give you a better understanding of how to use them. Also remember, you can always ask the pharmacist questions when you pick your prescriptions up. 

Call on Family or a Friend:

If you are unsure about your medication or need help dispensing the right dose, call on a trusted family member or friend.  If you are receiving in-home services, ask your nurse for help with medications or ask them to help you dispense them. Having support to help with medication use can drastically reduce your chances of medication misuse and can ensure that you are safe and secure while taking medications. When in doubt, reach out and seek help or answers to any questions you have about your medication. 

Medication Devices:

Not everyone has access to a caregiver for medication support. If support is not available, there are many medication devices that can make medication use easier and less intimidating. Pillboxes allow users to only take the allotted medication for a certain day of the week, reducing the risk of dosing issues. Automated timers and pill dispensers can ensure that users get the exact dosage of medication they need at the directed time that they need it. These tools can reduce misuse of medications and keep patients safe and healthy. 

Medications can be daunting and overwhelming. However, many steps can be taken to reduce the risks of medication misuse.

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