A medication tracking system is critical so you:

  1. Reduce medication errors – which include taking extra doses and missing doses
  2. Ensure you never run out of medication
  3. Maintain a current and accurate record of medication for emergencies and doctors’ visits

.medication-drawer..Not to mention just plain old peace of mind. It can get complex, but when you get into a groove with a good medication system you’ll always be sure you’re getting the right meds at the right time.

Our medication tracking system evolved as Tony’s medication regime became more complicated. Without a system, he had no way to reliably answer the question:

Did I take my meds?

  1. Reduce Errors: Errors consist of missing a dose or taking too many doses. Tony started with a simple 1-box per day weekly strip. We started it because he had a double-dosing incident with his pain meds. It was as simple as putting all of his daily meds into the one daily box and because there weren’t too many meds, he could easily just look and figure out if he had to take more meds. As his medications became more complicated, he ‘graduated’ to the 4 boxes-per day weekly planner. He now has a small and a large 4-boxes per day pill holder.
  2. Ensure You Never Run Out: It seemed that when Tony ran out of meds it was on a long weekend! Putting the meds into the weekly strip helped – and we now dispense his meds for an extra week in advance as getting refills can often require a doctor’s visit (or in the case of transplant – we need to order them for delivery from another city).
  3. Maintain A Current and Accurate Record: When you have one GP and maybe a few specialists and only a handful of medications, this isn’t usually an issue. These few doctors have access to your records and you can usually ‘wing it’ – or at least put your meds into a large Ziplock baggie and take them with you to appointments. When you’re a transplant candidate and recipient you’re going to need a record for a few reasons:
    Wear gloves – especially if you’re dealing with immuno-suppressants that are cytotoxic.
      1. Our transplant clinic was outside of our health region. This meant that all of our new team members didn’t have access to all records. More meds. More doctors. More confusion. WE became responsible for keeping accurate track of all meds and transferring information accurately.
      2. We had to call 911 more frequently. It’s a lot easier to hand over a sheet listing medications than to haul out the ziplock baggies when there are emergency people all over the place. They really like the organized binder we have now – because it’s the format that hospitals use and they can easily find the information they’re looking for. We hope our one post-transplant 911 call is the last – but if not, we’re ready!
      3. Medication errors happen MOST OFTEN at points of transfer. Like when the paramedics take over and transfer to hospital. Or you’re admitted for transplant. Or discharged home. Fortunately the medication error Tony experienced when he was admitted for transplant resulted in only minor side effects. We’ve since adopted the medication chart that they use in hospitals. Having this information sooner would have been GREAT!

So here’s how our medication tracking system works when it’s time to refill medications:

  1. get-readyGrab the binder (Binder? It’s part of the Rogue’s Transplant Journey Workbookand open it to the medication chart section. I work through filling the daily strips in the order listed on the printed chart so I don’t miss or add any. Note that this is a working document – I have it as a spreadsheet, but meds can change frequently (especially in the early days).
  2. Grab the weekly organizer thingies. We use a large 4-
    box weekly organizer for Tony’s 8 am, noon, 5 pm and 8 pm meds. The smaller one holds his ‘as needed’ pain meds and bedtime meds. This week, we had some extra pills left over in the organizer as Tony didn’t take meds at noon and then got himself discombobulated. We caught the error and talked about what had happened and how we could avoid it happening again.
  3. Grab your ‘drawer of meds’. I actually remove the drawer and take it to the working surface. We have all of his pill bottles in a plastic basket. I actually dump all the meds out and replace them once they’ve been refilled. This helps make sure I don’t miss any. When I’m done, there should be no stray pill bottles sitting on the table.
  4. As I fill the med strips, I make notes of medications that I’ve run out of or that are almost out:
      • img_20160918_141118088If the week’s medication strips are incomplete, I leave a sticky note on the pill strip that tells me where to start filling when the med is refilled or purchased.
      • If I have to call the pharmacy or book a doctor’s visit I leave a sticky note by the phone for Monday morning so the meds can be ordered and/or a new prescription appointment can be booked. I also list over the counter meds I have to pick up.

filled-pill-strips I fill the medication pill strips, but Tony is responsible for double-checking the meds as he takes them. This helps us avoid errors.

We have a few other tricks for ensuring we don’t run out of meds and to help Tony track what he’s taking. We’ll post about these in the near future.

This Blog post supports the information in the Rogue’s Transplant Journey Workbook.

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Beth Campbell Duke

Creating Systems To Help People Develop Their Strengths!

I help small businesses and organizations with HR Training and Policy/Procedure work.

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