How To Spot The Misuse Of Medicines During Your Day-To-Day Patient Care
Dedicated to helping people? Want to work where you’re appreciated? If so, Pegasus, an equal opportunity employer, has a home health care career opportunity for you.
Pegasus skilled in-home caregivers in Studio City and elsewhere regularly spend quality time with their patients. Their experience and expertise enable them to recognize when something is amiss. Career home health care nurses know how to spot medication misuse during their day-to-day patient care.
Prescribed medications come with specific instructions that include dosage and timing. Any deviation from those instructions is medication misuse. Some of the common ways in which drugs are not consumed as directed include taking:
- Larger or smaller doses than prescribed
- Medications for a longer or shorter time than prescribed
- Medications for a purpose other than what they were prescribed for
- Medications in a different form than prescribed
- Someone else’s medication
Not using drugs according to the instructions means they may not work as intended. Misuse is also potentially harmful.
Individuals may not comply with directions for various reasons. It’s crucial that you determine whether their non-compliance is intentional or due to confusion. Knowing the reason for any medication misuse helps you find a solution.
Misuse Of Medication Is Often Unintentional
Your elderly patients often don’t intentionally misuse their medications. They may have misunderstood the physician or pharmacist’s directions. Cognitive, hearing, or vision impairments can result in your patient not following instructions.
Some patients skip taking their medications as prescribed because of the cost. Or they may break tablets into pieces to “make them last longer.” Occasionally, individuals believe that “more is better,” so they’ll increase the doses of their drugs.
Others may not understand the importance of timing and take their medications when they think of it. Or they disregard whether or not the drug should be taken with food.
Conditions such as arthritis make opening pill bottles too difficult or painful for individuals to even try. Others refuse to take their medications because of unpleasant side effects.
Your patient may be adding OTC drugs, herbs, and supplements to their regimen. All of those have potentially adverse effects when combined with prescribed medication.
Spotting Medication Misuse and Substance Abuse
Although most misuse is unintentional, you may encounter substance abuse. Unfortunately, your patient may also be using illicit drugs. Or they may be overconsuming alcohol.
As part of in-home care, you observe and evaluate all the members of the household. You may discover that someone other than your patient is abusing your patient’s drugs. The circumstances will determine what action to take.
Patient safety is always our first priority at Pegasus. Our staff and your colleagues will assist and support you if substance abuse affects your patient.
Opioids, anti-anxiety drugs, sedatives, and stimulants are the most commonly misused medications. These are also the drugs often involved in substance abuse. Because you are providing one-on-one care, you have an opportunity to notice any changes in your patient.
You may observe that individuals:
- Are either more stimulated or more lethargic than usual
- Complain that their medications aren’t working and they need more
- Exhibit changes in their vital signs
- Fill their prescriptions at several pharmacies
- Have become moody, hostile, or uncooperative
- Start seeing additional doctors
- Seem confused, uncoordinated, or unable to concentrate
In short, you know your patient’s normal behavior and activities. Any change is cause for investigation.
Not All Adverse Effects Are Due To Medication Misuse
Your patient may be taking their medications exactly as prescribed but not obtaining the expected benefits. Rather than misuse, that’s potentially due to the effects of aging on drugs. Medications in seniors are often metabolized differently than in younger individuals.
Older adults often have more than one medical condition. Many take five or more drugs daily. Consuming multiple prescription and non-prescription products is known as polypharmacy, which can adversely affect patients.
It’s common for seniors to have prescriptions from more than one healthcare provider. Providers often are unaware of what other professionals have prescribed. If at all possible, your patients should fill all their prescriptions at one pharmacy to prevent unintentional drug interactions.
If you have not already done so, it’s incumbent upon you to learn about all your patient’s medical conditions. Then you need to know all their prescribed medications. It will likely take extra questioning, but you also need to know everything they’re taking to self-medicate.
You may need to consult a pharmacist to determine the interactions of all the drugs and other products. Once you are fully informed, you can educate your patient. You have the ability to help them consume their medications safely.
Join The Pegasus Team And Make A Difference
Pegasus expert in-home caregivers in Studio City and our other locations offer the personal assistance that individuals require. Their patients trust them. They confide the information that career home health nurses can use to prevent medication misuse.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. We’re hiring professionals from diverse backgrounds. Joining our team means you’ll experience equity and inclusivity in training, support, and career advancement opportunities.