Medicine management examines and compiles standards with regard to the methods used to prescribe, store, transport and utilize medicines, with the goal of protecting the end users as well as those who administer the medicines. The standards prescribed in the document are the minimum standards of practice and are to be utilized as the foundation of policies on local and national levels. In 2004, the MHRA defined Medicine Management as: ‘The clinical, cost effective and safe use of medicines to ensure that patients get the maximum benefit from the medicines they need, while minimizing potential harm.’ The standards apply not only to the drugs prescribed for humans and animals; they apply to blood and blood products too. This applies equally to medication taken at home as well as medication that is administered in a hospital or another healthcare setting.
Each person must assume responsibility for managing medications, because these powerful drugs can be quite dangerous if used incorrectly or under improper circumstances. It is vital that you are aware of exactly what medication you are taking, the required dose, how often you must take the medicine and how long you must take it. Various medications may not interact well with each other, so it is critical that you advise your physician as to all the pills you ingest daily, including vitamins and herbs as well as homeopathic or prescription medications. Your physician or pharmacist will talk with you about managing the medications that you take so that their effectiveness is maximized in dealing with your problem. Additionally, you doctor needs to know about any previous reactions you have had to any past medications. Women who are or may become pregnant should let their physician know that fact, because medications can be harmful to the foetus.
Medicine administration relies on accuracy in the process of prescribing and dispensing. Several parties must share the responsibility for the safety of medications, including the drug companies that develop and manufacture the medication, the regulatory bodies that test and approve the use of the medication, the medical practitioners who prescribe the medication, the druggists who dispense the medication, the caregivers who provide the medication to the patients, and the patients themselves who take the medication. There should be guidelines for administering medications.
The goal of managing medication is to minimize mistakes or the potential for mistakes by setting forth procedures to inform people about medicine safety, thereby increasing the likelihood that medicines will be managed safely when they are prescribed, dispensed and administered with very few mistakes. While many medication errors do not harm the patient, thousands of people globally have died as a result of medication errors. The incidence of error can be reduced by putting in place a good medication management system. Frequently people take a larger dose than prescribed; for instance, they may take two pills instead of one, they may take a second dose too soon because they have forgotten when the earlier dose was taken, or they may experience side effects from the medication. These do not cause long-term problems, and one can check with a physician or pharmacist as to how to handle these situations.
The NHS is utilizing modern technology to assist with medicines management by collating patient information. For instance, a list of medications prescribed for a particular patient would be kept on file along with notations regarding any side effects that s/he may have experienced in the past. This information can be referred to when additional medication is prescribed for that patient in the future. In addition, it can help to inform the patient as to how much to take and how often to take it, storage recommendations, and possible side effects that could be experienced and what to do when they do occur.
If you have any questions regarding medication that has been prescribed for you, if something has not been adequately explained to you, or if you want clarification about something, consult with the physician who prescribed the medication. If you are in the hospital, this could be the ward clinician or your general practitioner. If you require information about a medicine, a pharmacist may be able to assist you. If not, he may be able to let you know who can help you.
For further information on this matter, leaflets are available online or from The Nursing and Midwifery Council Standards for Medicines Management dated 2010 or The Department of Health document – Building a Safer NHS for Patients Improving Medication Safety dated 2003.