TakeCHARGE Campaign Step 2: Keeping Personal Medical Records
By: Pulse CPSEA
May's assignment: "Keep a Record of Your Medical History and Current Medications"
To find out why medication and health history records are important, we spoke to Beverly R. James, RN, BSN, retired public health nurse and former home care agency owner, who is also on the Board of Pulse CPSEA, the patient safety nonprofit behind the TakeCHARGE campaign.
"As public health nurses," she says, "one of the first things we had to do was get the patient's history. I would find that people had major gaps. They were unaware of how important it is to have not only their own medical history, but that of their family. They did not know enough about their family health histories."
These gaps, she says, were common across every socioeconomic and educational level. And when spouses or adult children were present, there were often heated debates about what had actually happened, resulting in unreliable information.
Things get even more complicated when someone is hospitalized. "Very often," says James, "patients would go into hospital, and maybe their primary care physician isn't affiliated with that particular hospital, so medication records are absent. The patient is often stressed and can't remember medications accurately. So very often they would get the same medication twice, or they would bring their medications from home, but not show them to the clinicians in the hospital."
Patients returning home, she says, would bring hospital-provided medications home in addition to what they were already taking. Or family members would share their own medications for what they thought were similar medical conditions.
"Planning to visit a dialysis patient at home," James continues, "I asked him to lay out every medication he was taking, including over-the-counter products. They took up the entire dining room table. 'Where did you get these, and these?' I asked. He replied, 'Those I got from the hospital. These were prescribed by a different doctor. And those are what I was taking before I went into the hospital.'
These potentially life-threating situations. The answer's simple: be prepared ahead of time, with a personal and family medical history, an accurate description of new symptoms, and an up-to-date list of all medications, including non-prescription.
To know more, visit the TakeCHARGE website (https://www.takecharge.care/
To support the campaign or become a partner, call 516-579-4711 or email: theTakeCHARGECampaign@