Building a Better Health Service

We use cookies to help us improve your experience and to provide services like web chat. We also use cookies to measure the effectiveness of public health campaigns and understand how people use the website.

To find out more about cookies and how we use them, please see our privacy policy.

Your Health

Patients benefit from medication information

A transitional care unit for the elderly has been leading the way in medication information, ensuring all patients are discharged with a full list of their medicines and their uses. Staff in the Cottage Hospital in Drogheda introduced the medication reconciliation checklist in 2018 in response to the World Health Organization Global Patient Safety Challenge, Medication Without Harm, and the HSE’s Know Check Ask campaign.

Members of staff in Drogheda Services for Older Persons and the Drugs & Therapeutics Committee with Ciara Kirke, Clinical Lead, National Medication Safety Programme, at the launch of the Know Check Ask Campaign in Drogheda Services for Older Persons.

A transitional care unit for the elderly has been leading the way in medication information, ensuring all patients are discharged with a full list of their medicines and their uses.

Staff in the Cottage Hospital in Drogheda introduced the medication reconciliation checklist in 2018 in response to the World Health Organization Global Patient Safety Challenge, Medication Without Harm, and the HSE’s Know Check Ask campaign.

Residents are admitted to the unit for a short stay before discharge to the community. The importance of medication information and safety at transitions has been a key focus for the unit.

Staff nurses Rathi Selvaraj and Joan Eluka recognised the potential for the campaign and the My Medicines List in particular, to improve medication safety at transitions of care. With the support of CNM Helen Califf, DON Aoife Bailey and the Drugs & Therapeutics Committee, they introduced the My Medicines List to their Transitional Care Unit as the quality initiative for 2019.

The Know Check Ask Campaign is being promoted by the HSE. This encourages people using medicines and their family/carers to:

  • Know your medicines and keep a list
  • Check that you are using the right medicine the right way and
  •  Ask your health care professional if you’re unsure

By filling in a My Medication List, keeping it up to date and bringing it to health care appointments and attendances, people can help to improve their safety.

The Know Check Ask My Medicines List was introduced in the pilot stage. Staff nurses discussed medication with the resident and family/carers one week prior to discharge and together filled in the list. The updated list was given to the resident before discharge. Each resident was asked for feedback two weeks later.

Prior to the introduction of the List, a survey of 14 residents found:

  •  86% were unsure about the drug name
  •   86% were unaware of drug allergy
  • 72% did not keep a list
  • 36% were unaware of drug dosage
  • 14% were unaware of why they are taking the medication

Feedback was very positive. One patient, who moved to Australia to live with her daughter after discharge, praised the ease of the list.

“My medicines list that we were provided with was invaluable for our situation. It was useful to us who do not have medical background, so we could see what the medications were for. It was good for the GP in Brisbane as well,” she said.

Other residents commented, “It’s helpful to know the medications I am taking. I brought it over to the GP and hospital appointment”; “It is very helpful, I look at my list first before taking medications and it explains in detail as to what medications are for”; “I would be lost without it, I carry the list to the doctor all the time”.

A family member noted that the list was “sent over the list to the hospital when readmitted. It was was detailed and helpful”.

The findings from the trial period resulted in the unit deciding to introduce the My Medicines List for all residents in the transitional care unit. Learning was shared with other units and plans are underway to expand the initiative to other units.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign in Drogheda Services for Older Persons, Ciara Kirke, Clinical Lead of the National Medication Safety Programme, congratulated Cottage Hospital on their initiative.

“This is exactly how we hoped services could bring the Know Check Ask campaign to life. Seeing the feedback from residents, families and health care professionals, it is clear that keeping a list is helpful and welcomed. I would like to congratulate Rathi, Joan and the team at the Cottage Hospital who have shown great leadership in meeting residents’ needs. We would like to encourage health services throughout the country to promote the Know Check Ask campaign and particularly the use of a medicines list.”