Drug interactions happen daily across the United States.
An interaction can happen in many ways. The pharmacist may mistake the doctor’s prescription for a drug that sounds or looks like the one being prescribed. Pharmacists have also been known to accidentally cross-contaminate medications, especially when the compounding table is not as clean as it should be.
Interactions can also happen when patients make the errors. For instance, some patients may take a double dose of their medicine in one day simply because they could not remember if they had already taken a dose.
Or, patients may skip doses for the same reason. Patients can also confuse drugs that sound and look alike.
In-office dispensing prevents many dangerous drug interactions. One of the main ways is because it allows you to educate your patients. Below are some of the ways you can spend time educating patients on their medications.
Education at the Time of Appointment
If you are dispensing at the point of care, you can spend more quality time with patients. During their medical visit, when you decide to prescribe a medication or change a prescription, you can explain your actions right then.
Even ten more minutes spent educating a patient gives you enough time to explain to them why you are prescribing, what you are prescribing, what it looks like, what the medicine will do to the body and their ailment, what side effects to expect and of course, how to avoid interactions.
Education When Filling and Dispensing the Medication
Before patients leave your office, they will see you or your staff one last time, to pick up their prescribed medication. It is at this time they can ask additional questions about their medication. Asking questions is not something they do at a pharmacy.
Pharmacies provide a cold and less than private environment. Confidentiality is compromised and patients are already tired of waiting for their prescription to be filled, which can take an hour or more at some pharmacies.
Your staff can educate patients about medication instructions, uses, interactions and what to do if they experience any trouble with the drugs. Reviewing this information with patients is extremely important. Many find it difficult to take in all your information during a single visit.
Patients know you are rushed, and they are often too nervous to ask lengthy questions. Too many times, patients leave your office confused, leading to errors in how they take their medications and potential drug interactions.
Literature Given with Medication
It is always best to educate patients using multiple formats. You have already verbally educated them, your staff has followed up with them, and now you can give them paper materials that clearly define the medicine you have prescribed.
This type of literature should be attached to the packaging that holds the medicine you prescribe.
In-office dispensing programs are equipped with computer software programs that automatically print this literature for you when you fill a prescription. The information is pre-formatted into the software program by its creators.
All you must do is press print and the literature is ready to distribute to patients. Printed materials will educate patients on everything from potential side effects, expected benefits, when and how to consume the drug, to the chemical makeup and classification of the drug itself.
Medication Packaging Provides Important Information
With in-office dispensing, medicines are prepackaged. This means they are taken out of the container the manufacturer provided and repackaged into a safer container. Packaging used in dispensing are created to prevent drug interactions.
Pills are typically packaged individually and labeled with a date, so the patient does not have to guess whether they have taken their daily dose or not. Blister packs are often used, making it easier for patients.
Packaging not only helps keep your patient organized in how they take their medicines, it also provides them with an extra layer of education about potential interactions and what to do if they feel there is a problem.
Makes It Easier for Caregivers
Many of your patients have caregivers helping them take their medications each day. Whether friends, family or paid caregivers, they need to be educated just as much as the patient when it comes to drug interactions.
With in-office dispensing, you can meet personally with caregivers and take the same steps of educating them in person as you did with other patients. With just a few extra minutes of providing valuable knowledge, you could be saving a life.
In-office dispensing allows you to help caregivers know the signs and symptoms to look for when it comes to drug interactions. You can also teach them, through personal instruction and printed literature, how to avoid accidental medical errors.
If you patient has a caregiver, it is important you give the message directly to the caregiver. Otherwise, the original message could be lost or changed by the time the patient is able to relay it to the caregiver. In-office dispensing allows you to work directly with the caregiver, offering you a bit more security.
Education at the Time of Refills
Patients will need refills if they are taking their prescriptions according to your orders. When they call for a refill, this is a prime opportunity for your staff to further educate the patient on interactions. Your staff can gather valuable information to see if they have had any interactions and if so, did they follow your plan for help.
You and your staff know the right questions to ask to get the answers you need to evaluate their knowledge on drug interactions. Patients will not automatically know what to tell you. Some may not even recognize symptoms as an interaction.
This makes it so important that you provide this information to them before something goes wrong, and to prevent something from going wrong.
The more you education your patients, the more documentation you have to protect you and your practice from any malpractice. Education is proof you have done everything you can to protect your patients.