At Residential Home Health, we’re tuned in to the concerns affecting our patients and the potential pitfalls that can threaten their health and independence at home. But as people, we are also patients ourselves — and vulnerable to the same issues. Mario Nanos, Executive Vice President of Sales for Residential Home Health, shares his story of a medication near-miss, in his own words.
A few weeks ago, I was admitted to a local hospital for overnight observation. I was admitted on a Tuesday night, and was discharged from the hospital at 3 p.m. the following day. As is the case with many patients being discharged from a hospital, I was prescribed two new medications to begin taking immediately. I filled the scripts for my two new meds ASAP, and started taking them right away as directed by the hospital internist.
On Saturday morning of the same week of my discharge, I noticed that one of the new pills looked familiar. Why? Because my primary care physician had already prescribed me that same drug, and I’d been mistakenly double-dosing for days.
Now, I’m quite a bit younger than your typical geriatric patient. I don’t have cognitive issues (although my wife says I do). I do have adequate caregiver support, and I even work in health care, as co-owner of a home health agency. But this classic medication reconciliation error still happened to me!
As soon as I realized what had happened, I called a nurse from Residential Home Health for help. We met at a local coffee shop, and she looked over a list of everything I was taking so she could reconcile not only my two new prescriptions, but all of my medications. She found other problems in addition to the duplicate medication issue that I had discovered. In one case, I wasn’t taking enough of a medication, and in another case, I had been taking a bit too much. That same day my Residential nurse called my doctor, they talked through what was needed, and all of my concerns were quickly addressed. I was fortunate that the medication errors weren’t of a more serious nature that could have adversely impacted my health and led to a readmission.
The point I’m trying to make here is this: most seniors can’t just call a nurse friend for help with tough medical issues. Many are on a lot more medications than I am, and are facing far more serious health challenges than I did a few weeks ago. And another critically important fact is that one of the top reasons for unnecessary readmissions is medication mismanagement or lack of robust medication reconciliation after discharge.
This recent personal experience made me realize more than ever that timely medication reconciliation matters because mistakes do happen! And seniors are especially vulnerable, particularly following discharge from the hospital. They are most likely to end up being readmitted if medication reconciliation isn’t done within 24 to 48 hours, so it’s absolutely essential that potential discrepancies get resolved quickly. Just doing medication reconciliation isn’t enough — it needs to happen as soon as possible upon discharge. A delay in starting care leaves a risk for an unnecessary hospital readmission.
At Residential Home Health, we aim to begin patient care within 24 hours of discharge, and medication reconciliation is done during the initial start-of-care visit. We can be your loved one’s eyes and ears in the home, making sure that they don’t have an experience like mine or worse. And not only do Residential patients have access to their designated clinical team through our exclusive Residential Nurse Alert device, but they also have 24/7 access to a nurse to answer questions about medication or anything else they might need, simply by pushing a button.
In addition to our comprehensive approach to medication management, Residential Home Health offers a range of services to help you work toward your health goals safely at home. Call (888)930-WELL (9355) to discuss your specific situation with a Home Care Specialist today, or click here to take our 60-second, 15-question Home Care Assessment.