Because “med rec” is a responsibility shared by providers, patients, and families, it’s important to engage everyone in the process.
Although the patient is—and should be, if capable—the ultimate owner of the correct healthcare record, “We have a responsibility as healthcare providers to help them be successful,” says Blake Lesselroth, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University and director of the Portland Patient Safety Center of Inquiry at the Portland VA Medical Center. “We haven’t done that.”
Hospitals and healthcare systems use varied strategies for including and empowering patients in the med-rec process:
- The Joint Commission launched its “Speak Up” program (PDF), which gives patients tools to help avoid mistakes with their medications.
- Last year, Southern California Kaiser Permanente rolled out its “medicine in a bag” initiative, according to hospitalist David Wong, MD. Patients are instructed to bring all of their medications (in their respective containers) to the hospital when they are admitted. Then, as the med-rec process is completed, medications are placed in green (take these meds), red (stop these meds), and yellow bags (which may include herbal supplements or other questionable items). In addition, orders are written and explained in simple language: i.e., “twice per day” instead of b.i.d. When patients visit their PCP after discharge, they are instructed to bring the color-coded bags so that the PCPs can verify the coherence of the orders. Clarity reports are filed for each physician, allowing a feedback mechanism to make sure that med rec is taking place.
- Open charting at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., in affiliation with the principles of the nonprofit, patient-centered Planetree organization, supplies another means of double-checking the veracity of patients’ medication lists. It also allows for meaningful patient education and dialogue about treatment and discharge plans, says Dorothea Wild, MD, Griffin Hospital’s chief hospitalist.
Gretchen Henkel is a freelance writer based in California.