Northern Hospital of Surry County recently unveiled a new tool to help patients better manage their prescription medications.
Royal blue medication bags, imprinted with the slogan Take me to Northern, are being given to all inpatients at the hospital upon their discharge. The bright blue bag is similar to a small travel bag that was specifically designed to store prescription medications.
“There are valuable benefits for keeping prescription medications in one location and that’s why Northern Hospital came up with this idea,” the hospital said in a statement annoncing the program. “It is essential for patients to bring their medication bag with them whenever they visit the hospital or a doctor’s office. Northern Hospital has also presented the medication bags to our local EMS and first responders so when an emergency call is placed, they can easily identify the blue medication bag and help ensure it is brought with you to the hospital.”
More than 30 percent of all medicine-related hospitalizations occur because medication was not taken as directed, according to the hospital. “Almost 125,000 people across the country die each year because medications were not taken as directed by their doctor. Northern Hospital is committed to educating patients and their families on the importance of taking, storing and disposing of medications correctly to reduce the likelihood of an accident,” the hospital said.
According to Robin Hodgin, vice president-patient services at Northern, “The Take Me to Northern medication bags are being issued to acute care patients on our medical/surgical, step-down, and intensive care units. The bags are designed to be put in places where patients keep their prescriptions and serve as a visual reminder for patients and their family members to bring their medications along when coming to the hospital or to any of their health care visits. This initiative is to improve medication reconciliation, enhance quality of care, and improve the overall patient experience.”
The medication bags will also include a patient information card which is completed during the discharge process. The card has information such as the patient’s emergency contacts, pharmacy, drug and food allergies and advanced directives. When available, the patient’s family is also educated on the bag and the importance of keeping the bag in sight yet safely away from children.
It is also vitally important for anyone visiting the hospital or doctor’s office to have an accurate list of all current medications, including herbal supplements and any over-the-counter drugs that are being taken. Northern Hospital encourages patients to keep their medication lists accurate and in their blue medication bags.
“An accurate account of all medications being using prior to admission is necessary for the healthcare team to be able to assess a patient. When questioned about their medications many patients do not automatically list over-the-counter products. It is important that we remember that many OTC medications have potentially harmful side effects and numerous drug-to-drug interactions. It is so important that healthcare providers are made aware of all products that a patient uses, even if only occasional use,” said Michelle Wilson, PharmD, pharmacy director at Northern.
“Patient response has been very positive in just the first week of distribution,” said Lisa Snody, RN, the director of the Medical-Surgical Unit. “One gentleman was so excited with the bag he left without his personal travel bag.”