How Beaufort Memorial is helping patients remember their medications

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective.

Caregivers at Beaufort Memorial Hospital had been working on different ways to keep patients with complex health issues safe and comfortable at home so they don’t have to keep coming back to the emergency room.

When staff members decided to conduct some informal interviews with patients, a common thread emerged. Patients were thoroughly confused about their medications.

They weren’t sure what the drugs were for, how much they were supposed to take of each and when, and how long they really needed to take them.

“We had many older patients with chronic diseases who were also going through cognitive changes. They just had no good way to remember medication instructions,” said Amy Wagner, a nurse practitioner with Beaufort Memorial’s “Bridge to Home” transitional care program.

“Some of them were taking eight, nine or ten different medications.”

The Beaufort team went through several approaches before they came up with a winning idea: a brown bag with a cute infographic sticker reminding patients to bring every one of their medication bottles to every health care visit with every provider every time. This practice helps providers prevent potential problems like prescription duplications, dosing errors or drug interactions.

Thousands of the plain brown bags were donated by Agape Hospice, Lowcountry Hospice Care, Walgreens and Wal-Mart, but the team also purchased many of them themselves as part of the Bridge to Home program.

The bags are now given out with the discharge folder patients receive as they leave the hospital. Patients may also get the bags from primary care offices or mobile wellness units during local health screenings, and the team hopes to start distributing the bags from the emergency department as well.


07-20-2015 05:09 (EDT)