Receiving Medications at the Hospital
It’s a fact of life. Medication errors happen every day in all healthcare settings, even in the most prestigious medical centers. And more than ever, consumers are aware of just how often these medications errors can happen. But with this knowledge comes power. Consumers can and should take an active role when it comes to medication safety during a hospitalization.
Swallowing unintended objects and substances is a pretty common problem among sick patients. For example, patients recovering from anesthesia in a hospital or receiving other sedating medications may not be thinking clearly. These patients may rely more on instinct and grab what they believe has been left for them by their caregivers. However, even patients with a clear mind may simply trust that anything a nurse or physician leaves at the bedside is “safe” or “ready to use.”
If you or a family member has been hospitalized, the first few days after returning home can be confusing. In fact, let's use the word "risky" when it comes to medication use.
The story: A pain relief system known as patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) allows a patient to take pain medication without having to call a nurse. It's used most often in the hospital. The concept is simple: A pump containing pain medication is attached to your intravenous line (the tube that goes into your vein).
A pediatrician prescribed 1/4 teaspoonful of Rondec-DM syrup (brompheniramine, dextromethorphan, and pseudoephedrine) four times each day for a child with a bad cold. This medicine is used to treat coughing and a runny or stuffy nose.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is an independent agency that sets standards for US hospitals. The Joint Commission visits hospitals often to see if they are meeting these standards. This agency is especially concerned about your safety.
Hello, my name is... When you are admitted to a hospital or seen at a clinic, you are usually given an identification (ID) bracelet to wear. This bracelet lists your name, your birth date, and usually at least one other number. Some hospitals use other bracelets to signal important information like allergies. Nurses must check these bracelets before giving you any medicine to confirm you are the right patient and to make sure you are not allergic to the medicine. But what if your bracelets are hidden?
If you are hospitalized, nurses will typically give you the medicine your doctor has prescribed. But if the medicine the nurse brings to you doesn’t seem right, it might be that an error has happened. You may be hesitant to speak up about the potential problem. You may believe your doctor and nurse know more about medicine than you do. But in some cases, your instincts may be right, as in the example that follows.
If you are scheduled in advance for surgery or a procedure, you will need to go to the hospital for a pre-admission testing appointment. You might need blood tests, a physical exam, and instructions about what to do before the procedure. This is a great time to go over your current list of medicines with the nurse or doctor.
Let your doctor, nurse, and X-ray technician know if you have an allergy to shellfish or iodine before you have an X-ray procedure that requires an injection of dye (contrast solution). This dye is sometimes used to make things more visible during procedures like a cardiac catheterization, a computed tomography (CT) scan, or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.