A new campaign, which aims to help people keep track of the medicines they are taking, has been launched by the HSE.
"Know, Check, Ask" aims to help people who takes medicines regularly, and everyone involved in their care, to make better decisions about their treatment.
"Sooner or later everyone needs medication and often people can be on a number of medicines for different health conditions. Keeping track of all of these medications can be confusing and so the HSE has developed a ‘My Medicines List' which is available to download at www.safermeds.ie and is also available in all pharmacies around the country.
"People can of course create their own list instead or ask their pharmacy or GP practice to print a list of medicines from their records. Some people find it useful to take a photo of their list and keep it on their phone," explained Muriel Pate, a medication safety specialist pharmacist with the HSE.
The campaign urges those who regularly take medicines, and those assisting them, to:
-Know your medicines and keep a list. Bring this to all appointments and if admitted to hospital
-Check that you are using the right medicine in the right way
-Ask your healthcare professional if you are unsure about anything.
Ms Pate pointed out that communication can be a major safety challenge in healthcare.
"Communication about medicines can be tricky as there can be so many details to remember. The My Medicines List will be of huge help, especially when people are admitted to hospital or have an appointment. It will help them to communicate with healthcare professionals quickly and easily," she said.
The campaign engaged with lots of different people and groups during its development.
"They told us that using a medicines list can really help people, families, carers and healthcare professionals understand and communicate better and improve patient safety and health," Ms Pate noted.
Gordon Ryan, who underwent a double lung transplant, said that the campaign and the My Medicines List would be of great benefit in his daily life.
"Because of the transplants, I take various medicines on a daily basis and see my doctor regularly. It's great to have such a simple tool to help me manage my medication and it will be really useful for any of the doctors that I need to see as they will be able to instantly see what medicines I'm taking and be able to check and update my treatments as needed," he explained.
Meanwhile, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) encouraged people to always talk to their pharmacist about any medicines they are using.
"Nearly half the Irish population lives within one kilometre of their local pharmacy. The better people understand the medicines they are taking, the safer it is for them.
"Always talk to your local pharmacist about any medicines you're using and any other questions you might have and, if you're not sure, ask them for a list of your medication," commented Darragh O'Loughlin, IPU secretary general.
The campaign forms part of the World Health Organization's 'Medication Without Harm' initiative, which aims to reduce severe avoidable medication-related harm by 50% over the next five years.
For more information, visit www.safermeds.ie.
*Pictured at the launch of the campaign is double lung tranplant recipient, Gordon Ryan.
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