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WAIRARAPA HOSPITAL
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Published Monday 6 Nov 2017

For many of us, healthcare involves taking medicines. Knowing your medicines – what they are called, what they are for, how often you need to take them and for how long - is really important.

Meal tray flyers this week at Wairarapa Hospital encourage patients to ask questions about their medicines.

Wairarapa DHB is focussing on improving communication about medications between health professionals and consumers. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tom Gibson, is encouraging people to ask questions and be well informed.

“We want people to ask questions about their medicines; know what they are taking, how, and for how long; and we want our healthcare professionals to clearly explain medicines to their patients. It’s about making sure consumers understand their medicine so they can be active in managing their own healthcare,” he explains.

Dr Gibson appreciates that people sometimes feel they shouldn’t ask questions during appointments with their medical professionals as time is often limited. “But that is exactly the right time to ask,” he says.

“Your doctor or nurse will be pleased to give you the information. Your pharmacist is a very good source of information too, and they are very good at taking time to discuss your medicines with you when you pick up your prescriptions.”

“And don’t trust Dr Google!” Dr Gibson warns. “If you are online, refer to trusted medical advice sites, like Health Navigator www.healthnavigator.org.nz, or My Medicines mymedicines.nz/cdhb.”

Some tips and tricks for medication safety:

·Make a list of what you want to ask before you get to your appointment, so you don’t forget anything.

·Take a notebook to write down important information, or take a support person with you to do it for you.

·Make sure you know what all your medicines are called, what they are for, how you take them and how often, and how long your treatment is likely to continue.

·Know what signs and symptoms to look for that will indicate if your condition is improving or getting worse.

·Write down all your medicine information and keep it somewhere handy – perhaps inside your bathroom cabinet door, or in an envelope on the fridge.

·Make sure your family know where your medicines are, and where your healthcare information is.

·Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about taking a medicine, or if you have problems meeting your medication costs.

·If you know you are going into hospital, or attending a clinic, take a list of all the medicines you are on with you. It will be very helpful for the clinicians managing your care.