By Toni Garrard Clay
Don't leave home without it ETMC Athens distributes medication cards throughout Henderson County
Perhaps you've been in this scenario before. You're out of town, visiting friends or on vacation, when you have a medical emergency. You've injured yourself, or an existing medical condition suddenly demands attention that can't wait until you can get to your own doctor. So you go to the nearest ER, and they ask you what medications you're taking.
You can remember a few of them. And you know what the other ones look like, but not what they're named. This is a problem, and there's a simple solution. It's called "My Medication Card," and ETMC Athens is working to see that people across Henderson County have one.
"If you're traveling by yourself and have an emergency situation, it's a tremendous safety asset for people to have one of these with them," said Debbie Gardiner, holding a folded medication card.
A simple but important form
As director of risk management and performance improvement at ETMC Athens, Gardiner has worked alongside a contingency of many others at the hospital to develop and distribute the simple but important form.
"A lot of times someone comes into an out-of-town ER, and they don't know a thing about their medical history," she said. It's important, however, to have a list of your medications at hand even when such an out-of-town scenario is unlikely.
Family members, pharmacists, primary care providers and specialists should have easy access to all of the mediations you take. Such information creates a crucial partnership between all potential healthcare providers.
A survey was taken last fall of 248 adults from a variety of settings. Sixty-five percent of those individuals reported taking medications on a regular basis. Only 30 percent of those were carrying some sort of form listing their medication information.
With that in mind, ETMC Athens has developed the medication card for distribution throughout the county - not only to its own patients.
"We're doing this because we're passionate about service and safety for as many people as possible," said Gardiner, "and we want to increase people's awareness about their own medications." The medication card is easy to fill out and easy to carry. It folds into a convenient wallet size and has a place to fill out information on your allergies; a brief medical history; over-the-counter medications taken; physician, pharmacy and emergency contacts; immunization records; and a place for prescribed medications, including date started, drug name, dosage, when and how often you take it and its intended purpose.
With this card in your wallet, the next time you're asked, "What medications do you take?" it's a simple matter of handing it over.
"This is by far the broadest and deepest we've seen this community initiative go," said Susan McBride, senior vice president with the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, of which ETMC Athens is a member. "Hopefully, this will spur other hospitals to follow suit."
Community initiative kick-off
At a community initiative kick-off luncheon June 27, ETMC Athens formally announced the creation of the medication cards and began distribution to nearly 80 locations throughout all of Henderson County, including phsycians' offices, senior citizen centers and pharmacies. Of course, they will also be available at the hospital. "This is for the whole community, not just our patients," said Gardiner. "With this card, everybody will know what medications you're on, and it could prevent medication reactions." In addition to distribution to physicians' offices, pharmacies and senior citizen center, the "My Medication Card" form can be printed from the ETMC Athens website. Visit www.etmc.org/athensmedcard.htm to download.
Originally posted June 27, 2007