Medication Safety for Seniors: Tips for Caregivers
If you are taking care of an elderly loved one at home or in the healthcare setting, one of your responsibilities as a caregiver is to administer medications safely to the patient. However, more often than not, doing this has become more of a challenge for most caregivers than a responsibility. There have been thousands of medication error cases that happened in the past that even the most capable health care provider out there would get bundle of nerves whenever issues of this would arise.
The truth is anyone can put patients at risk for medication errors. The sad reality is, mistakes in drug administration can cause serious health problems, if not death, to patients. Health care professionals have been carefully trained on how to administer medications safely. In fact, there are only a few selected health care professionals who are permitted to do it. So, if you are a caregiver who is tasked to administer medications to a senior whom you are taking care of, don’t panic yet. Atlantic Drugs will help you do your job safely through these practical tips:
Share the responsibility with others
The truth of the matter is you don’t own full responsibility for administering medications safely to your patients. The pharmacist, doctors, and other credible health care professionals also take part in what you are doing. So, make sure that you ask help from them if there are things you don’t understand. Never be afraid to partner with them. Remember that you are a part of the health care team, so asking help from these professionals would save you a lot of troubles in the end.
This is one of the common mistakes committed by most health care providers out there. As a caregiver who is left to care for a sick or disabled elderly, you need to discuss all important matters to the patient’s doctors and ask questions if there are things that are unclear to you. Moreover, follow the directions given by the doctor before you administer the medications to your patient. We are sure that there is a lot of information you can learn from them about the medications prescribed. Some of the information includes the specific time and dosage of the drug. Also, make sure that you are not quick to decide on doing things that are not sure yet, or else it might put your medical practice at risk.
List all medications
If the senior that you are taking care of has a lot of medications to take, it is best if you keep a list of all of them. You must be careful with the kind of information you need to write on the list, paying particular attention to the dosage and timing of each drug prescribed. If possible, ask the doctor about the indications of the drugs prescribed first.
The other reason why you should also keep a list of all medicines prescribed is for you to be able to adjust the medications easily, so that there will be no problems in terms of drug interaction in the end. You must also include in the list the other medications that the patient is currently taking – such as supplements, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal medications.
Always read the labels
Before you administer medications to your patient, make sure that you read the labels, or talk to the doctor first about it. Your doctor is able to answer all your questions pertaining to the “drug facts” on the labels, or can also provide you clear information about the instructions given.
Reading the labels would help you know how to administer the medication safely to the patient. Some of the details written on the labels include the drug’s route, indication, dosage, timing, etc. – information that you need to follow to prevent medication errors.
Never administer medications not prescribed by the patient’s doctor
Only administer the medications prescribed, and not take other people’s drugs. As a caregiver, if you administer a drug not prescribed, most likely adverse reactions or interactions would occur – and you will be held responsible for it. Doing so can cause you a lot of trouble – even remove your license if necessary. So, we hope that it is clear to you by now the importance of only administering the right medications. Follow only the doctor’s prescription or the Pharmacist Prescription.
Don’t hesitate to ask
One of the common causes of medication error is the fear of asking help from a medical doctor regarding the medications prescribed. As a caregiver, never let intimidation or fear get on the way if you want to save yourself from malpractice. Like what we always say, ask questions if there are doubts in your head. There are valuable resources that your pharmacist and doctor can give to you regarding the details of the drugs prescribed. There is no way these professionals would know what information they’ve missed out to discuss unless of course, you ask them about it.
If you need more help, our Compounding Pharmacy in Long Beach, California has pharmacists to help you. The number to dial is 562-912-7940.