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Avoid a Trip to the Hospital with Medication Management

By: John Kabler, RN Case Manager (Well Care Home Health of the Triangle)

A New Year brings a new sense of purpose in multiple areas of life. From resolutions to improved healthy eating habits, many people strive for a fresh game plan every January. It's the perfect time for the Well Care Home Health team to share how patients can avoid a trip to the hospital -- with simple medication management.

Mishandled medications and poor organization are some of the leading causes of hospitalization among in-home care patients. At Well Care, my nursing colleagues and I collaborate with our patients to develop simple tactics to help them avoid this.

Organization is key!

Take these steps to effectively manage medication(s):

1. Gather all medication bottles and ensure there are no duplicates or missing medications.

2. Write down all medications on one list and include details - state the name of the medications, how often you're required to take them, and the reason for taking them. 

3. Fill a pill dispenser consistently, on a designated day once a week. (Note: Pill dispensers are available at local pharmacies for a low cost). Line up all pill bottles. Then, starting with the first bottle read the label and place the pill(s) into the dispenser according to what time(s) you're required to take them.  If you notice pills are running low, call the pharmacy for a refill. (The pharmacy's phone number is provided on the bottle).

4. After placing the pill(s) into the dispenser, place each bottle back into a common placeholder or container (Note: A bag or basket is convenient for storing your pill bottles).

This consistency helps with organization.  Managing Insulin is also important and requires some extra TLC.

Here are 3 ways to effectively manage Insulin:

1. Designate a notebook strictly for Insulin, and write down all blood sugar (BG) results (i.e. -- If you check your blood sugar three (3) times a day and take four (4) units of regular insulin before each meal and a long acting insulin at night before bed).

Here's an example:

2. Keep all Insulin supplies in one common place for checking blood sugar. This includes the glucose meter and test strips, notebook for writing everything down, alcohol prep pads for cleaning your finger, and the needles for sticking your finger.

3.  Keep all insulin supplies in one common area in the refrigerator. Insulin must be kept cool, so a refrigerator is the best place. (Helpful tip:  If you or a family member is drawing up your insulin, ask your home health nurse or doctor how to obtain Insulin in a dial-up pen. This is a much safer way to ensure the correct Insulin amount is taken with each dose).

Remember - It's OK to ask for help!  If you're having trouble seeing or reading your labels, talk to your nurse. S/he is your partner in this process and will be able to pinpoint resources that can help with regular medication assistance.

Don't hesitate to discuss medication concerns with your doctor and/or nurse. Never take it upon yourself to change medications or stop using them altogether. Consult your clinical team regarding anything related to your medications.

Make this a great new year by getting organized and following these simple steps. They've been proven to help patients avoid trips to the hospital. My colleagues and I want our patients to remain in the comfort of their own homes.  Well Care's clinical teams are here for you!

About John Kabler:

John joined Well Care Home Health of the Triangle as a Registered Nurse (RN) Case Manager in June 2017.  He has been a Nurse for 13 years, and spent the last 8 years in the Middle East working with patients through a variety of charitable organizations.  There, he developed health strategies for home-bound patients and created care plans for a healthier lifestyle.  He found in-home care to be a great opportunity for Nurses.  "A family's home is their epicenter," says John.  "It's where I hope to have the greatest impact.  I love to teach and see positive changes in the lives of the patients I care for."

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