The Unit Action Council (UAC) at St. Marys Memorial Hospital, an initiative designed by the Huron-Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) to improve patient care” in its four hospital sites, is promoting a new tool for making Emergency nurses aware of people’s ongoing medication regime.
“People don’t realize that Emergency nurses don’t have access to the physician’s files re: medication,” explains Laura Payton, one of two citizen members on the 15-strong UAC.
Other members come from the St. Marys Memorial staff, as well as administrators within the HPHA.
The UAC has created new posters and pamphlets encouraging people to be aware of what medications they’re taking, and have a list with them at all times.
“It’s in everybody’s best interest to know what they’re taking,” commented UAC member and Memorial Hospital staffer Catherine Shackleton.
Frances Taylor, a UAC member who’s also an Emergency Department nurse at the Queen Street West facility, says: “There are multiple different ways that we can eventually get (the medication information), but they all take time.” It’s much better if it’s made available by the patient.
“Often, people think they know, but they don’t,” Payton adds. “They tell the nurse, ‘Oh, it’s that blue pill’.”
Older people tend to know more often than younger patients, she added. They’re accustomed to needing to know about what medications they’re taking.
And often people don’t recognize that what they’re taking can have effects if combined with other treatments that are necessary in an emergency setting. So they forget that the birth control pill should be mentioned. Another common problem is nutritional supplements containing niacin. And even people taking Aspirin sometimes forget to mention it because it seems commonplace.
The pamphlets are currently available only at the Emergency Department. But the posters will be put up in pharmacies and doctors’ offices, aiming to remind patients of the project.