2006: Preventing Medication Errors: What YOU Need to Know / What YOU Need to Do

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2006 “Talk About Prescriptions” Month

This year’s theme is “Preventing Medication Errors: What YOU Need to Know / What YOU Need to Do.” Our purpose is three-fold with this year’s observance:

  1. To help call attention to the magnitude of personal health problems due to avoidable medication errors;
  2. To encourage every affected person or group -- including consumers, healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, voluntary health agencies, and local, state and national government agencies to get involved in combating medication errors;
  3. To suggest ways that consumers, their healthcare providers, and public, private, and voluntary organizations can get involved to drive down medication errors, and by doing so, help promote safe and appropriate medicine use.

The Past as Prologue…

In 2005, the theme for NCPIE’s “Talk About Prescriptions” Month theme was “The 3Rs for Safe Medicine Use.” That simple, yet compelling theme drew attention to three learning key points to help promote safe and appropriate medicine use: 1) Risk - recognize that all medicines (prescription and nonprescription) have risks as well as benefits; and you need to weigh these risks and benefits carefully for every medicine you take; 2) Respect - respect the power of your medicine and the value of medicines properly used; and 3) Responsibility - take personal or family responsibility for learning about how to take each medication safely. Being responsible also means following this important rule: when in doubt, ask first. Your healthcare professional can help you get the facts you need to use medicines correctly.

Looking Back/Moving Ahead...

The first national “Talk About Prescriptions” Month was authorized by NCPIE’s board of directors in October 1986. At that time, few health observances dotted the health planning calendar. This year, October 2006, represents NCPIE's 21st national sponsorship of "Talk About Prescriptions" Month. The very first, and successive themes for “Talk About Prescriptions” Month, is telling in many respects as to NCPIE’s longstanding contention that better medicine communication can lead to better medicine use, which can lead to better health outcomes. Symbolically, that's Better medicine communication ~ Better medicine use ~ Better health outcomes.

NCPIE's initial “Talk About Prescriptions” Month planning materials in 1986, featured a lead article by then-Chairman, the Hon. Paul G. Rogers, entitled, “Paul Rogers' Challenge: You Are the Key.” This and several other “TAP” Month articles bear repeating in 2006, not just for their prescience but because two decades later they still communicate what we all can do more of and do better as we enter into our 21st annual observance of “Talk About Prescriptions” Month, and as the U.S. starts to set into motion a nationally re-energized response to address the critical call to action raised by the Institute of Medicines recently released report, "Preventing Medication Errors."*


* Copies of Preventing Medication Errors are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, www.nap.edu. The full text of this report is available at www.nap.edu.

Two Decades of TAP Month: Variations on a Theme

1986   Medicines: The More You Talk, The Better They Work
1987   Medicine: Before You Take It, Talk About It
1988   Communicate Before You Medicate
1989   Speak Up America: Talk About Prescriptions
1990   Smart Medicines Need Smart Patients: Talk About Prescriptions
1991   Everyone Wins When You Talk: Talk About Prescriptions
1992   Communicate Before You Medicate
1993   Medicines: Let’s Talk
1994   Communication is Good Medicine
1995   Communicate Before You Medicate
1996   Team Up and Talk About Prescriptions
1997   Be Informed... Stay Healthy... Talk About Prescriptions
1998   Communicate to Stay Healthy: Talk About Prescriptions
1999   Educate Before You Medicate: Talk About Prescriptions
2000   Educate Before You Medicate: Knowledge is the Best Medicine
2001   Educate Before You Medicate: Your Prescription for Good Health
2002   Educate Before You Medicate: Know Your Medicines
2003   Educate Before You Medicate: A Prescription for Patient Safety
2004   Your Medicine Information is Important: Read It & Heed It
2005   The 3Rs for Safe Medicine Use
2006   Avoiding Medication Errors: What You Need to Know / What You Need to Do

Ideas for Observing “TAP” Month

“Talk About Prescriptions” Month — Getting Involved in October & Beyond
October 2006

“Talk About Prescriptions” Month (October) is a great time to organize and conduct medication communication programs for the general public, patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, community businesses and social / service organizations, clubs and health fairs. But remember, avoiding medication errors is an ongoing job, so don’t limit your thinking and planning to one month of the year. In fact, when it’s about safe medicine use, every month can be “Talk About Prescriptions” Month. Here are some ideas and links to resources you can use to get started:

  • Download and distribute copies of “What You Can Do to Avoid Medication Errors” to your members, customers, patients, and colleagues at work.
  • Distribute the consumer poster, “Preventing Medication Errors.” Display it in every pharmacy, hospital, medical/dental facility, library, community center, and retail store in your community.
  • Place articles about “Talk About Prescriptions” Month in your organization’s newsletters and magazines. Articles from NCPIE's 2006 “Talk About Prescriptions” Month planning materials can easily be adapted for local newspapers and newsletters.
  • Organize a “brown bag” medicine review program in your community. This program invites patients to bring all their medicines in a bag and discusses them with the health care professional. Patients are advised if medicines are out-of-date, and which medicines, if used in combination or incorrectly, can cause harmful interactions.
  • Set up a “Prevent Medication Errors: What You Need to Know / What You Need to Do," information and education exhibit in shopping malls to coincide with scheduled health fairs. Health professional students can discuss general medicine use issues with consumers and distribute educational handouts like “What You Can Do to Avoid Medication Errors”.
  • Adapt NCPIE's Radio Public Service Messages, which include live-read copy and scripts and distribute them to radio stations in your community. Each of the messages can be “tagged" with your organizational name as a co-sponsor along with the radio station’s call letters, creating visibility for your group.
  • Contact local television health and science reporters. Ask them to air stories about the safe and effective use of prescription medicines in October and beyond. Use NCPIE’s “Talk About Prescriptions" Month planning materials and the Institute of Medicine’s report, “Preventing Medication Errors” for story ideas. Offer to provide on-air experts.
  • Organize a “Preventing Medication Errors” information and education display in local libraries and your own facility.
  • Arrange for health care professionals to visit classrooms, senior centers and fraternal organizations. Consumers of all ages can benefit from discussions about how to use medicines safely and effectively. NCPIE has partnered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a new educational program on safe medicine use for students in the 6th - 8th grades. Visit “Medicines in My Home,” at www.fda.gov/medsinmyhome. There you’ll find all the information and resources needed to conduct a 45-minute educational session designed to educate children about the importance of reading the "Drug Facts" label on nonprescription (over-the-counter or OTC) medicines. The program includes take-home materials for children to share with their parents.
  • Promote your activities so others can learn from your experiences. Send information about your ongoing or special “Talk About Prescriptions” activities to: NCPIE, 200-A Monroe Street, Suite 212, Rockville, MD 20850-4448 , or by email to: ncpie@ncpie.info.

“Talk About Your Medicines” Month