6 5 4 3 2 1

People encouraged to ask pharmacists about their medicines


Taking control of your medicines to help stay on the right track with your health could be as simple as talking to a pharmacist, says the Health Quality & Safety Commission.

The message comes as the Commission, in partnership with First, Do No Harm in the Northern region, launches a week-long promotion in community and hospital pharmacies as part of its Open for better care national patient safety campaign focus on reducing harm from high-risk medicines.

Let’s PLAN for better care pharmacy week, 22 to 28 February, is supported by the Pharmaceutical Society and the Pharmacy Guild, and highlights the valuable advice pharmacists can provide.

It’s an extension of the Commission’s Let’s PLAN for better care health literacy approach – which includes an A4 tear-off sheet available for distribution by general practices, pharmacies and others to help patients plan for their next health care visit.

The resource suggests questions people may want to ask their pharmacist about their medicine:
  • What is the medicine for?
  • What is its name?
  • How and when do I take it?
  • How long do I need to take it for?
  • What could happen if I stop taking it?
  • What are the side effects? What should I do if I get these?
The questions – along with ‘I am on more than one medicine – can you help me manage them?’ – will be displayed on posters in pharmacies during Let’s PLAN week.
 
Pharmacies will also be promoting the Let’s PLAN resource itself, along with specially produced fact sheets about high-risk medicines insulin, warfarin and methotrexate, and a general fact sheet about the role pharmacists can play.
 
Copies of the Commission brochure Taking Your Medicine Safely will be available too.
 
A competition for the best Let’s PLAN pharmacy week display will be judged by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.
 
‘If you’re taking medicines, especially high-risk medicines, there are important things you ought to know about them – in particular about how and when you need to take them, and about side effects and what you should do if you get them. Pharmacists can answer these questions,’ says Dr John Barnard, the Commission’s clinical lead for medication safety. 
 
‘If you have trouble remembering to take your medicines at the right time and on the right day, you could ask your pharmacist to “blister pack” them, so the medicines are grouped and labelled according to when you need to take them.
 
‘If you are on, say, warfarin and plan to start taking a herbal supplement or another alternative medicine, you should talk to your pharmacist first, in case it interferes with how the medicine works.
 
‘These are just a few examples of how pharmacists can help you. All you have to do is ask.’