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Medication awareness boosts patient safety and wellness

Female Pharmacist looks at medication boxes on shelf
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Autumn is a great time to think about patient safety: World Patient Safety Day (September 17, 2022) and Canadian Patient Safety Week (October 24-28, 2022) remind us that accessible, expert resources for patients and health care providers are key components of ensuring best possible kidney care outcomes. Equally important are conversations between patients and care team members – it’s said that there is no such thing as a stupid question, and this is especially true when it comes to medication use.

While there are many elements to ensuring patient safety, a particularly important one is the proper use of medications: kidney patients, with their needs for multiple drugs and frequent prescription changes, are at a higher risk than most patients for medication errors.

“Patients should be aware of their medication lists – names of drugs, doses and dosing times. Importantly, patients should also know why they are taking these medications. Carrying a list with all these details really helps when they can’t remember or can’t speak for themselves,” says Dan Martinusen, chair, BC Renal Pharmacy & Formulary Review Committee.

What kidney patients should know about drug interactions

The possibility of potentially harmful drug interaction increases when, in addition to prescription mediations, kidney patients use non-prescription ones, regularly or even occasionally.

Before using any non-prescription medications, it is important to know if that product might interact with your prescription ones. Talk to your primary care provider, your kidney care team or a pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.

Drug interaction resources for patients

Excerpt from patient handout
Excerpt from patient handout

Health professionals have a vital role in medication awareness

Health care professionals play a key part in ensuring and advancing patient safety. BC Renal and the province’s health authority renal programs were the first in Canada to initiate medication reconciliation ("med rec") for kidney patients across the continuum of renal care – from clinic, to admission, to transfer, to discharge and back to the clinic.

Med rec is beneficial in several ways: it improves patient safety; supports easier hospital admission and discharge; provides patients with up-to-date medication lists; and supports better drug-use evaluation at patient, prescriber and network levels.

BC Renal’s Pharmacy & Formulary Review Committee has compiled useful resources to help health professionals monitor and manage kidney patients’ medication regimens.

Drug-interaction resources for health professionals

“We want our patients to be on the most appropriate medications for them, at a dose that is both effective and safe,“ says Dan. “If side effects may be present, please approach a health team member so together we can find a better solution.”

About the 2022 awareness campaigns

To learn about World Patient Safety Day and its 2022 theme of Medication Safety, see this World Health Organization page.

To learn about Canadian Patient Safety Week and its 2022 theme of Safety Conversations, see this Healthcare Excellence Canada page.




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