provider understanding and exercise of these rights and improve the safety and quality of medication use.

Actions for Consumers

For sound medication management, providers and consumers2 should maintain an up-to-date record of medications being administered, including prescription medications, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and dietary supplements, as well as all known drug and/or food allergies. Such records are especially important for patients who have chronic conditions, see multiple providers, or take multiple medications.

By becoming more informed and engaged, consumers (and their surrogates) may decrease the probability of experiencing a medication error (Cohen, 2000). Such actions can range from the simple and routine, such as double-checking their prescription when dropping it off and picking it up from the pharmacy, to the more involved, such as forming an active partnership with providers in managing their health care. When using OTC medications, herbal remedies, and dietary supplements, consumers should seek the information they need to make informed decisions. When obtaining medical care, consumers should ask questions and insist on answers from providers to guide their decision making based on their personal values and preferences. They should ensure that their provider explains their medication regimen clearly and speak up if they do not understand. In addition, they should ensure that providers give them written information about their medications, as well as tell them where to obtain information from other sources. Finally, consumers should communicate with their providers if they experience any unexpected changes in the way they feel after initiating a new medication. Some specific actions consumers can take are outlined in Box S-4.

Actions for Providers

Providers can take several specific actions to improve medication safety (see Box S-5). First, they can verify the patient’s current medication list for appropriateness at each encounter, and they can ensure that this list is accurate at times of transition between care settings. They can educate their patients about the medication regimen, understanding that patients need different kinds of information at different times and for different purposes. Providers can also respect patients’ wishes and inform them of


In this report, the term consumers is often used in referring to patients to emphasize the active role individuals need to take in ensuring the quality of the health care services they are purchasing.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement