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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Medication Safety: Part 3 of "Talk About Your Medicines" month


27 Tishrei, 5775

Please let me know your thoughts about the series of medicinal posts this week.

Here's Part 3. Specfic references to medication are highlighted in purple so you can find them fast:

Take a Breath and Review Some Important Points

You've been doing some hard work. I congratulate you for the effort you've invested in saving a precious life. Now I ask that you take a deep breath. It will clear your mind a bit, I hope, and let you review some important points as well as you can.

Among the positive actions you and I are focusing on is protection of your or your loved one's interests. You are learning to guard your physical, emotional and spiritual health or that of your loved one as you make your way past a medical diagnosis and crisis situation.

The most important actions that you must take to preserve your body and mind are threefold:

1.   To do whatever makes you healthier than you are now.

2.   To maintain the most optimal health you can have at any point in time during your medical adventure.

3.   To do what you can to prevent your situation from becoming worse.

At each juncture in this workbook, I invite you to create or to use your own initiatives. Empowerment is the complete opposite of a crisis situation. You can take as much control as humanly available to you in this medical crisis. You will manage it better with every try.

Three Easy-to-remember Things You Can Do to Preserve Your Health:

One: Trust your instincts. Your gut knows what is right and wrong for you.

Two: Follow up all doctor visits with questions if you have any and get all test results in writing. Knowledge equals decision-making ability.

Three: YOU ARE YOUR OWN BEST ADVOCATE. It also doesn't hurt to have someone in your corner. If you are too shy to ask questions or to challenge medical conclusions, an informed, assertive friend or relative can get the job done for you. Be the Chief Executive Officer of your life and delegate responsibility within reason.

The words that follow are many, but they present an important point for you the reader, your loved ones plus the medical staff addressing your medical issues:

When a person already taking medication(s) is admitted to a hospital or outpatient clinic, they usually receive new medications or changes are made to the medication they've been taking all along. That can present some serious health problems for people with drug sensitivities. They might become sicker or their medical problem will not be adequately addressed while they're in the hospital or clinic.

Hospital-based staff members are not mind-readers. Worse, they tend to be crushed by heavy schedules and excessive responsibilities. They can't easily access every - or any - patients' complete medication lists. Communication lines might falter or not even attempted. Medical professionals down the line aren't always able to know of recent medication changes. As a result, the new medication regimen being prescribed during the hospital or clinic stay, then at the time of discharge could 1) Omit necessary medications, 2) Add too many drugs treating the same problem, 3) Cause physical harm or 4) Hold incorrect dosages that simply do not help the patient.

Sometimes the situation happens in front of you the patient as you scream, beg and plead in vain for someone to pay attention and to prescribe the medication you need versus the stuff they want to ply on you.

The patient and the medical staff share a problem called "A need for medication reconciliation." How that is to be accomplished is one serious matter. I've resolved it live on the spot for a few people.

If you are facing the problem, you need to alert all medical personnel of the issues affecting your health. But what if relevant people aren't paying attention to you the patient, or to your loved ones demanding better care? See the LISTEN to the Person Before You: Lessons for Caregivers section in this book. You can print it out, along with this page, and give copies to nursing supervisors, the head of the medical department treating you and anyone else you deem appropriate. 

Here are a few more suggestions: Print out the "Don't Tell Me You 'Understand'" poem on page 7 and hang it over your hospital bed. Practice more patient-protecting ideas. Delegate authority and have loved ones or friend present facts to relevant medical personnel. Learn how to successfully advocate for yourself in dire medical straits. Practice until you get it right.
If the medical personnel before you are rude (be sure that you remain polite 24/7!), here are a few practical suggestions for ending accusations, sarcasm and other negative things hampering good communications:

Respond to a provocative, perhaps false or misleading statement by saying “That's interesting… tell me more.” If things do not improve, ask “Why would you say that?” or “Why would you ask that?” and “Why would you do that?” If at any point you’ve heard inappropriate remarks made to or about you, a neutral-sounding “Oh” just might quell the nastiness coming your way.
Seek out a hospital social worker or ombudsman/ombudswoman if necessary. It’s their job to mediate difficulties and to resolve them to the patient’s satisfaction.

One more thing: Know why you take prescriptions medications. Here are some questions to ask your doctors and nurses when they give or prescribe medication (cremes, pills, powders and all kinds of potions) to you:

WHAT is this medication for and what does it do?
HOW should I use it and what can happen if I don’t use this medication?
WHEN/How soon should I expect this medication to work for me?
WHAT should I do if I have a problem with this medication?
Can I safely take this medication with all my other medications and the foods I eat? Even with my vitamins?

The reason is this: You need information so that you keep making safe decisions with your healthcare. You might know of a valid personal reason for not using a specific medication (drug sensitivities, expenses involved etc.). Alert your medical team members of your concerns and ask all the questions you wish until you're sure you know why you have to use a specific drug, and how to use it safely. Take notes so you can remember necessary information. Feeling rushed, scared, tired or embarrassed can make you forgetful. So can the average day filled with other details.

Avoid harming yourself due to mistakes that can be avoided.Some medications should be used on empty stomachs, others only with meals. Some creams and oils stain clothing or skin. Perhaps you should not expose yourself to sunshine while using specific drugs. Drowsiness might make using certain machines (cars, trucks) dangerous. Be aware of what is involved. Get the facts straight and take notes so you can remember necessary information. Normal people tend to forget details. Notes help you to remember them.

You need realistic expectations of your medical treatments. Know up front if you must be patient for specific effects to occur. Side effects can be surprising but not dangerous. Some can kill. Be alert to the need to reach an emergency room if your medicine makes you worse off than before. Take notes so you can remember necessary information

Some foods, such as dairy items, can limit the effects of specific drugs. Vitamin supplements might not be compatible with certain drugs. Clarify the dietary guidelines. Take notes on answers to all your questions. As a matter of fact, list all your medications in a handy notebook you can study in once glance. That can save you time, money, fear and heartache.

Click on the title at the end of this sentence, or the book cover above, to buy the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism. 

Figure out what you need to do to promote your health.



Batya said...

This post is included in  First Joint Jewish Blog Carnival, HH-KCC of 5775. Please check it out, read the posts, comment and share. There are all sorts of topics covered, from food to Torah.

Yocheved Golani said...

Thank you, Batya!