How to Improve Medication Management
Medication management involves monitoring all medications a patient takes ensuring that the correct
dosages are taken at the proper times and with food or liquids. It is important to watch patients for side
effects from certain medications or dangerous drug interactions from medication combinations.
Step #1: Keep Updated Records
There is little more important in the management of medications than keeping accurate and up-to-date
records of patient medications. As a patient or caretaker of a patient, it is vital that all physicians and
pharmacies are informed of any new medications or changes in dosages so that medical and pharmacy
records may be adjusted accordingly. Some physician’s offices, hospitals and pharmacies have helpful
software programs that issue warnings when conflicting drugs are prescribed that may cause
interactions, or when patients are inadvertently prescribed medications to which they have allergies.
Step #2: Monitor Medications
It is vital that a family member or hired medication management consultant monitors a patient’s
medication when that patient is no longer mentally able to handle their own medication schedules.
Many patients use pill cases that have labels for certain days and times in order to help keep their
medications straight. Missing medications, taking them at the wrong time or without food may cause
dangerous complications that may prove harmful to patients. Equally harmful are side effects from
medications. It is crucial that physicians are alerted any time a patient shows signs of adverse reactions
to prescribed medications.
Step #3: Consult Pharmacists
Pharmacists are excellent resources for information on proper medication management for patients.
They may explain potential side effects, how and when medications should be taken and whether or not
driving is safe after taking the medication. Pharmacists may also explain how to store medications, what
to do if a dose is missed and what other medications or herbal supplements should be avoided.
Step #4: Verify Medications upon Each Hospital Admission
Every time a patient is admitted to the hospital, it is important for staff to review medication records
and note any changes that have been made to the patient’s regimen. In the event the patient is unable
to recall medication information, a family member should be able to confirm medications with hospital
staff. Whether kept electronically or in physical medical charts, medication changes should be updated
immediately during each inpatient hospital stay.
Step #5: Barcoded Wristbands for Inpatients
Barcoded wristbands have proven to be one of the most effective forms of medication management in
hospital settings. The barcodes typically contain the patient’s full name, date of birth, medical record
number, type of medication and dosage. By scanning the barcode, physicians and nurses in a hospital
can confirm the patient’s identity and verify that they are administering the correct medication and
dosage at the right time and in the right way.
According to the Administration on Aging, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services has conducted studies which have concluded that drug interactions and adverse side effects
occur more frequently among patients who take more than 5 different medications each day. As the
nation’s population ages, management of medications will become increasingly important to older