“Too often, hospitals seem to look at talking about drugs with patients as a formality. But it’s not! It’s essential to keep patients safe in hospital and at home. And failure to do a better job of communicating with patients about drugs is one of the reasons hospital errors in this country are so unacceptably high.”
- Dr. John Santa, Director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.
For a medication education initiative to be successful, you need a team of champions to lead the charge. Keep in mind that poor communication leads to medical errors.
In addition to the people mentioned in previous blogs (CNO, CMO, nurses, IT, pharmacists, etc.), ancillary departments like PT and Dietary and crucial to patient medication education. Who spends more time with patients than RN’s? RN’s are in and out, while a PT may spend thirty to forty minutes in a physical therapy session. They’re not just talking about stretching quadriceps and hamstrings – they talk about diet, exercise, and many other aspects of a patient’s overall health. This is a great chance to make ancillary departments aware of their participation in patient education.
Members of the Patient Medication Education Team should be examples for everyone responsible for medication education by practicing the correct behaviors of medication education.
The PME Team must:
- Organize/supervise all new RN medication education training, and continue preceptor-ship (so staff members can educate patients with confidence)
- Focus on medication reconciliation at all transition points
- Establish patient rounding
- Issue actionable recommendations as needed
- See that all RN’s are empowered to question prescriptions/dosages as warranted
Members of the PME Team should define their Charter based on these responsibilities. The CEO absolutely needs to empower this team, so they can begin their initiative right away.
Inspiring Leadership Competency
- Assemble a Patient Medication Education Team, with a Charter and a prioritized Action Plan.
- Have at least one senior RN on each floor (preferably a medication guru) become a medication education-trainer.
- Make medication education workshops available.
- Focus on how to get your point across effectively – remember the handy anagram D.E.A.T.S.
- Use role-playing whenever you can; it’s a powerful staff education tool.
- Don’t hesitate to drill staff on their “teach back” skills.
- Empower nurses to question prescriptions if there is reason for a second look – and make sure providers understand why.
- Emphasize the benefits of “conversation-starters.”
- Encourage staff to customize and make them their own.
- Ensure you have a protocol for medication reconciliation at all transition points.
- Schedule pharmacist rounding on an “as needed” basis.
- Remember to recognize and reward staff (innovators and steady performers alike).
The Take Away
Without exception, effective leaders are great communicators. Institute a Patient Medication Education Team, with members across all departments, to promote the training and behaviors necessary for effective communication about medications.
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