Free Consumer Guide to Manage Benefits and Risks of Medicines
Library: MED
Keywords: "PATIENT SAFETY", "MEDICATION", "PRESCRIPTIONS", "MEDICINE", "USP"
Description: The U.S. PharmacopeiaБПs (USP) Center for the Advancement of Patient Safety (CAPS) today announced the availability of Think It Through: A Guide to Managing the Benefits and Risks of Medicines, a free consumer brochure on how to safely use prescription and over-the-counter medications.



Rockville, Md., Feb. 25, 2003 -- The U.S. Pharmacopeia's (USP) Center for the Advancement of Patient Safety (CAPS) today announced the availability of Think It Through: A Guide to Managing the Benefits and Risks of Medicines, a free consumer brochure on how to safely use prescription and over-the-counter medications.

No medicine is entirely risk-free, and the eight-page brochure educates consumers about the five critical steps in making informed decisions and safely using medications: Talk, Know, Read, Avoid, Monitor. These critical steps allow consumers to lower the risks and obtain the full benefit from prescription and over-the-counter medications, as explained below:

1. Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional. Keep an up-to-date list of medicines and dietary supplements you use, and always ask questions about any concerns or thoughts you may have.
2. Know your medicines -- prescription and over-the counter. Be aware of when, how, and how long to use them, what to do if you miss a dose, and whether or not there are any side effects.
3. Read the label and follow directions. Always double-check that you have the right medicine, and never combine medicines in the same bottle. Make sure you understand the directions; ask if you have questions or concerns.
4. Avoid interactions. Before starting any new medicine or dietary supplement, ask if there are possible interactions with products you are currently using. Whenever possible, use the same pharmacy for all your medication needs.
5. Monitor your medicines' effects -- and the effects of other medications or supplements you use. Pay attention to how you are feeling; write down the changes so that you can remember to tell your doctor or pharmacist.

A member of the Partnership for Safe Medication Use, USP is making this brochure available in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human, Services Food and Drug Administration, the National Patient Safety Foundation, and a number of other national organizations.

USP's Center for the Advancement of Patient Safety (CAPS) was established to enhance USP's work in improving patient safety by preventing and reducing medication errors. It conducts data analysis and research, seeks grants, develops professional education programs, publishes articles on issues related to medication errors, participates in legislative activities, and proposes standards, recommendations and guidelines for the health care industry.

Each year, CAPS analyzes and issues a report on medication errors captured by MEDMARX, an anonymous national medication error reporting database that is used by hospitals and health care systems nationwide. USP released the latest analysis of MEDMARX data in December 2002.

The Think It Through brochure is available on the Internet at: www.usp.org/thinkitthrough. For a free copy of the brochure by mail, consumers can contact the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) by writing to: FCIC, Department 73, Pueblo, CO 81009; by calling (888) 878-3256 and asking for Department 73; or visiting online: www.pueblo.gsa.gov/rc/usp.htm.
SIDEBAR:
QUIZ: How Well Do You Manage Your Medicines?

QUESTION 1: What risks might you encounter from using medications?
a) The possibility of harmful interaction between food, beverage, dietary supplements, or another medicine.
b) The chance that the medicine may not work as expected.
c) The possibility that the medicine may cause additional problems.
d) All of the above.

ANSWER: d) All of the above. No medicine is risk-free. Every choice to take a medicine involves thinking through the beneficial effects as well as the potential negative effects. The benefit/risk decision can be difficult to make; the best choice depends on your particular situation.

QUESTION 2: Before using any medication, you should:
a) Stop taking all other medications and dietary supplements.
b) Think through the benefits and risks in order to make the best choices.
c) Inform your health care provider and/or pharmacist about the medications you are taking (or have taken), but NOT the dietary supplements.
d) All of the above.

ANSWER: b) Think through the benefits and risks in order to make the best choices. To help ensure the safe use of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, get to know your medicines, read the labels, follow directions and talk with your health care provider and/or pharmacist about the prescription medications, OTC drugs and dietary supplements you are taking (or have taken).

QUESTION 3: When should you talk to your doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider about your medications?
a) If you have allergies or sensitivities.
b) If you know of any problems that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing or remembering to take them.
c) If you are or might become pregnant, or if you are nursing a baby.
d) All of the above.

ANSWER: d) All of the above. You are a member of your health care team, and should therefore be active in your own health by speaking up, asking questions, learning the facts, and reading the labels. Always ask questions about any concerns or thoughts that you may have.

QUESTION 4: True or False. You should keep a list of only those medications and dietary supplements that you use on a regular basis.

ANSWER: False. It is important to keep an up-to-date, written list of all medicines (prescription and over-the-counter) and dietary supplements, including vitamins, minerals, and herbals, that you use -- even those you use only occasionally.

In order to avoid potentially harmful interactions, it is vital that you inform your health care provider and/or pharmacist of all medications and dietary supplements that you use, even if on an irregular basis.

QUESTION 5: How can you best minimize the risks of taking medicines?
a) Talk with your doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider.
b) Know your medicines, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements.
c) Read the label and follow directions.
d) All of the above.

ANSWER: d) All of the above. It is important to understand that you have the right and responsibility to take an active role in the decisions affecting your health care. By talking with your health care provider, knowing your medicines, reading labels, avoiding interactions, and monitoring the effects of medicines, you can reduce the incidence of medical errors.

Consumers can obtain a free consumer brochure on safely using prescription and over-the-counter medications called Think It Through: A Guide to Managing the Benefits and Risks of Medicines from the United States Pharmacopeia's (USP) Center for the Advancement of Patient Safety. This brochure is available on the Internet at: www.usp.org/thinkitthrough. For a free copy of the brochure by mail, consumers can contact the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC) by writing to: FCIC, Department 73, Pueblo, CO 81009; by calling (888) 878-3256 and asking for Department 73; or visiting online: www.pueblo.gsa.gov/rc/usp.htm.
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USP -- The Standard of Quality
USP is a non-government organization that promotes the public health by establishing state-of-the-art standards to ensure the quality of medicines and other health care technologies. These standards are developed by a unique process of public involvement and are recognized worldwide. In addition, USP has public health programs that focus on promoting optimal health care, including the Dietary Supplement Verification Program (DSVP), Health Care Information, and Patient Safety. USP is a not-for-profit organization that achieves its goals through the contributions of volunteers representing pharmacy, medicine, and other health care professions, as well as science, academia, government, the pharmaceutical industry, and consumer organizations. For more information, visit www.usp.org/e-newsroom.
CAPS -- Improving Patient Safety by Preventing and Reducing Medication Errors.
The Center for the Advancement of Patient Safety (CAPS) was established to enhance USP's work within the patient safety arena. Each year CAPS conducts an in-depth analysis and issues a report on medication errors by utilizing data captured from Medmarx°ЫБXthe national, Internet-accessible, medication error prevention tool, which enables hospitals to anonymously report and track medication errors. In addition, CAPS seeks grants, develops professional education programs, publishes articles on issues related to medication errors, participates in legislative activities, and proposes standards, recommendations and guidelines to help improve patient safety and to ensure health quality by preventing and reducing medication errors.

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