Who’s Minding Your Meds? (Part 1)

Alzheimer's Disease Transmitted Between Patients for the First Time
Alzheimer's Disease Transmitted Between Patients for the First Time

Even with electronic health records, an accurate picture of the medications you are taking can get lost if you have multiple providers.

Have you ever wondered what your doctor or nurse is busy typing into the computer during your office visit? Well, I certainly have.

Your electronic health record (EHR) or electronic medical record (EMR) is a computerized or digital version of what used to be the paper-based medical health chart kept on file at your doctor’s office. It contains information about your medical history, laboratory reports and the medications you are taking. During your office visit, it will be updated with information such as your pulse and blood pressure, your current symptoms or complaints, diagnosis and treatment plan, and any medication changes.

These electronic health records are designed to facilitate sharing your health information with other health care providers, as well as your pharmacy.

An increasing number of health care providers are offering patients an online “patient portal” that gives you easy access to your health information. From here, you can get information about medications, lab tests, recent physician visits and even reorder your prescriptions.

This all sounds great, but there’s a problem: Since many people have multiple doctors, they also likely have several EHRs. Unfortunately, most of the time, there isn’t a way to consolidate all this information in one place. This makes it difficult for any single health record system to contain complete and accurate information.

The lack of “interoperability” of these systems is a huge issue, especially when you consider the fact that your pharmacy has a completely different system for the prescriptions they dispense to you. And if you use more than one pharmacy, there is a chance that not even your pharmacist really knows all of the medications you are taking at any time. This lack of a complete and accurate medication list can lead to serious consequences, like drug interactions and adverse drug events.

About 1.3 million visits to the emergency room are made every year as a result of adverse drug events, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). And about 350,000 patients are further hospitalized.

So the question “Who’s minding your medications?” is of utmost importance. Because there are loopholes between different doctors and even between pharmacies, an accurate picture of the medications you are taking can get lost. Learn how you can protect yourself by using a personal medication record to keep track of your medications in my next column.

DISCLAIMER: MedShadow provides information and resources related to medications, their effects, and potential side effects. However, it is important to note that we are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content on our site is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Individuals dealing with medical conditions or symptoms should seek guidance from a licensed healthcare professional, such as a physician or pharmacist, who can provide personalized medical advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

While we strive to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information presented on MedShadow, we cannot guarantee its completeness or suitability for any particular individual's medical needs. Therefore, we strongly encourage users to consult with qualified healthcare professionals regarding any health-related concerns or decisions. By accessing and using MedShadow, you acknowledge and agree that the information provided on the site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and that you should always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns.

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