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Medication Management Program at Somerset Hospital

December 17, 2018

Have you ever looked at a prescription pill bottle and thought, “I don’t understand what this is saying I should take”? Or walked out of a doctor’s appointment confused about what medication the doctor is recommending?

Somerset Hospital has initiated a new program to help patients understand and adhere to their medication and supplement routine. The Medication Management Program at Somerset Hospital was designed by Jami Gindlesperger, director of inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient occupational therapy, in September 2016.

“I attended a health literacy seminar and realized that Somerset County is one of the lowest health literate in the state,” Gindlesperger said.

The hospital’s plan helps patients with medicine recognition, management and adherence and routine.

“We talk to patients on how to take medicines, read the medicine labels, fill the pill box,” she said. “We ask can they open the bottle? Do they understand the new medicines they are given? and we help them come up with ways to remember to take their medicines and get prescriptions filled.”

The program was recognized by the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania this fall. Gindlesperger said that since she spoke at a safety and quality symposium in October, she’s received a lot of feedback.

“So many hospitals across the state call and talk to me about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” she said.

She said about 90 percent of the patients the occupational therapists conducting the program talk to are approached as they walk in the hospital’s door.

“We start at admission,” Gindlesperger said. “We look at how they remember to take their medication. We look at ways to help them remember to increase the adherence. We help check the pill bottles they might have and see if there’s any information they are given that they don’t understand. Whenever we assume somebody knows something, we find out that they actually may feel too intimidated to ask questions. We need to slow down as health care professionals and realize that not everybody understands health care lingo.”

The therapists provide a booklet that offers a list of questions patients should ask when they are talking to their pharmacists about their medications.

It has techniques that can help patients manage their medication, which include smartphone apps, drug reminder charts, pill calendars, pill boxes and subscription computer health programs.

The booklet offers options should the patient not be able to afford the medication. It talks about what patients need to tell their doctor about drug allergies and interactions.

The booklet also gives a list of do’s and don’ts for the patient to consider when managing their medications, such as keeping a written record of prescriptions, checking the label on the bottles and setting the organizer in full view so they see it and won’t forget to take the medication.

It says don’t stop taking prescribed medicine because the symptoms go away, don’t give prescriptions to someone else and don’t drink alcohol while taking a medicine.

The patients are given a green bag to carry all their medications and supplements to medical appointments. With the actual pill bottles in hand, the doctors can see exactly what medications and supplements are being taken, how much and what interactions may occur.

“The long-term big picture is we’re getting them into a routine for taking medications,” she said.

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