Guide to Improving Patient Safety in Primary Care Settings by Engaging Patients and Families
Create a Safe Medicine List Together
"A lot of times patients come in and say, "I take a white pill or I take a purple pill or a green pill" and I have no idea what it is or how much they are taking. This strategy helps to improve documentation because we can see the medications and decrease medication errors. Everyone—providers, nurses, patients—now knows what the patient is taking, the dose, how, and why."
What Is Create a Safe Medicine List Together?
The Create a Safe Medicine List Together strategy engages patients and families to actively participate in developing a complete and accurate medicine list. Patients are asked to bring in all the medicines they take, both prescribed and over the counter, including non-oral medications such as injections, inhalers, ointments, and drops, as well as medicines they only take occasionally. Staff within your practice will work with patients and their families to develop a complete and accurate medicine list, and clinicians will conduct medication reconciliation based on the complete and accurate list.
Why Use Create a Safe Medicine List Together?
In the primary care setting, medication safety issues include prescribing errors, contraindications, overprescribing, underprescribing, and patient adherence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-thirds of primary care office visits involve drug therapy, with 3.2 billion medicines ordered or provided each year. Studies show that 5 to 7 percent of prescriptions result in a medication error. That’s at least 160 million medication errors annually.
Almost half the people in the United States have used at least one prescription in the last 30 days, while one in five has used at least three. More than half of the medicines prescribed to patients taking five or more medicines are not needed, are contraindicated, or are not taken as prescribed.
How Do We Implement Create a Safe Medicine List Together?
Medication safety in primary care requires a team approach, engaging the patient and his or her family as part of that team. Creating a medicine list together can help uncover patients who are unintentionally overdosing by taking both the generic and name brand medicines, are taking outdated prescriptions, or are taking supplements that negatively interact with their prescription medicines.
At least once per year, ask the patient to bring in all of his or her medicines to create a safe medicine list together. Detailed implementation guidance is provided below.
Materials for Create a Safe Medicine List Together
To get started, first download and review these documents:
- Create a Safe Medicine List Together Implementation Quick Start Guide [PDF, 174.3 KB]
- Detailed Implementation Guidance—Full Guide, Appendix B [PDF, 800 KB]
- Procedure To Create a Safe Medicine List Together [PDF, 188.5 KB]
Next, download and review the following documents:
- Patient Medicine List Reminder Card [PDF, 157.3 KB]
- Create a Safe Medicine List Together Checklists:
- Overcoming Common Barriers to Medicine Adherence Job Aid [PDF, 63.8 KB]
- Create a Safe Medicine List Together Patient Poster [PDF, 184.1 KB]
You may also want to download and use the Training Toolkit. This Toolkit should be customized for your practice based on your planned implementation.
- Create a Safe Medicine List Together Training Toolkit: