It’s the pharmacist’s role to ensure the patient has healthy outcomes through medication, education, and clinical services. Sometimes, though, medication may have an unintended negative effect.
Poison Prevention Week, the third week of March, is a nationwide movement to prevent poisonings. While children are usually susceptible to these accidents, all age groups are affected by accidental exposure or consumption of harmful substances. In 2016, U.S. poison centers reported over 2 million cases of poison exposure.
Independent pharmacists have an opportunity to be more than medicine dispensers; they can also prevent their patients from toxic consequences, whether intentional or unintentional.
Promote Safer Drug Storage
Pharmacists have a lot of options for encouraging better drug storage habits. During Poison Prevention Week, they can include educational pamphlets with their patients’ prescriptions. These provide tips for keeping medications out of reach of children and animals, and list phone numbers for local poison control centers. Also, if a patient has opted for Easy Open caps for their pill bottles, the pharmacy staff can give a verbal reminder to them about careful storage. (PioneerRx users can easily see if a patient has selected this preference at the Fill Screen if the Easy Open Cap option is highlighted in red.)
Educate Your Community
Independent pharmacies are integral parts of their communities. One way to bring exposure about poison prevention is by teaming up with another local entity (police stations, schools, hospitals) and host an educational event to spread awareness of safe medication handling. See how the Pharm.D students at the University of Buffalo educate local students about poison safety.
Arrange a Drug Take Back Event
Unused and expired medications may lead to accidental poisoning. Rather than throwing them away or flushing them down the toilet (which contaminates water sources), the DEA allows retail pharmacies to manage drop-off sites that collect unused drugs. Click here to learn how to create a drug take back location in your pharmacy that can reduce waste and drug abuse. The DEA also promotes two National Drug Take Back Days each year, and nearly 6,000 tons of medications were collected during the October 2018 event!
Let Your Technology Work for You
With the right pharmacy technology, independent pharmacists can address common issues that lead to accidental poisoning.
- Integrate with a prescription monitoring program (PMP) to search your state’s database for patient drug histories
- Use a Look-a-Like/Sound-a-Like warning to advise your patients about drugs that may be confused with others with similar names or descriptions
- Create allergy alerts to avoid dispensing medications with ingredients that may be harmful to a patient
- Offer multiple lines of communication to your patients! Direct messaging is a more convenient, effective way for patients to contact their pharmacists with questions, concerns, and education about their prescriptions.
While monitoring positive outcomes, independent pharmacists have an opportunity to use their tools and patient relationships to avoid negative consequences, as well. Poison Prevention Week can be the start to better awareness and improved practices for proactive pharmacies and healthier communities.