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Letter to the editor

Editor, – The case reported in 'Medicinal mishaps' (Aust Prescr 2002;25:73) highlights the importance of obtaining an accurate medication history as part of the hospital admission process. Frequently this is 'easier said than done'. Obtaining an accurate medication history is often complex, time consuming and a fallible process. Reasons for this include:

  • lack of patient knowledge of their medications
  • lists from local doctors and patients that are out of date
  • medication labels that are out of date or non specific ('mdu')
  • transcription errors on residential care facility transfer letters
  • neglecting to ask the patient what they are actually doing with their medications.

All patients should be encouraged to bring their medications to every hospital and clinic visit. Patients should be assisted by their pharmacist, local doctor or family member to maintain a current list if they are unable to remember their treatment themselves.

Glenn Valoppi
Pharmacy Resident
Simone Taylor
Senior Clinical Pharmacist
Emergency Medicine
Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre
Heidelberg, Vic.