BOX 4-10

Examples of Consumer Medication Safety Materials

The National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) has developed several brochures describing what consumers can do to improve medication safety and prevent errors. Examples are Be MedWise: Use Over-the-Counter Medicines Wisely ( and Prescription Pain Medicines: What You Need to Know (

The Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors has published a guide for patients and families titled Your Role in Safe Medication Use (

The FDA collaborated with the Council on Family Health to produce such brochures as Be an Active Member of Your Health Care Team ( and Medicines and You: A Guide for Older Adults (

The American Pharmacists Association has developed a brochure on Avoiding Medication Errors (

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices has produced a pamphlet titled Be an Informed Consumer (

The above materials are a good start for information on safe medication use, but their dissemination is not as widespread as is needed. Moreover, the materials need to specify where to find additional information about health and medications, such as the NLM’s MedlinePlus website (, and how to report problems or ADEs through the FDA’s MedWatch Program (

their medications. Public libraries could establish health resource areas for consumers interested in obtaining health and medication information or leaflets. School health programs and libraries could distribute child- or adolescent-oriented materials on safe medication use and what to do should a problem occur. Waiting areas in ambulatory care offices could serve as venues for patient education through videotapes, computers, and/or paper-based information on health conditions and on good medication self-management practices. The waiting area could display lively posters explaining the patient’s rights and responsibilities with regard to medication safety (e.g., why it is important for the doctor to know if the patient is taking herbal or other dietary supplements).

Communication networks already in place, such as those associated with the public health infrastructure, should be utilized for medication safety initiatives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently completed the consolidation of its dissemination activities into one center—the National Center for Health Marketing (NCHM). The goal of NCHM is to help people actively use accessible, accurate, relevant, and timely health information and interventions to protect and promote their

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