Outreach >> Safe Medication Use  April 23, 2014

Impact of Medication Errors

This year, one in every 200 Americans will be injured or killed by a medication error.  While many efforts have been made to help healthcare providers prevent errors, comparatively little has been done to help patients and their caregivers understand the roles that they must play to reduce the risk of medication harm.

Consumer Education is Key

The Pharmacy Foundation of California (PFC) believes consumer education is an important weapon in the fight against medication errors.  This is because most medications are consumed in the one place where patients have the least amount of medical support: their home. The greatest challenge to educating consumers about safe medication use is simply convincing patients and caregivers that this is information they need to know and use.  Unfortunately, many at-risk consumers do not believe they or their loved ones are in danger of being harmed by a medication.


Sometimes this stems from a belief that their medications “simply aren’t dangerous.”  Other times it's the result of an assumption that their doctors and pharmacists have all the time and information they need to ensure the safety of their medication therapies.  Consumers who hold these beliefs simply do not see the relevance of requests to assume a larger role in preventing medication-related harm.

High Priority Populations

To help address this challenge, PFC is developing two separate consumer outreach efforts.  The first is based on the National Council for Patient Information and Education Medication Use Safety Training (MUST) for Seniors program (http://www.mustforseniors.org).  PFC believes that this program can arm seniors with important tools like medication wallet cards and information which will reduce the risk of medication harm.

PFC has chosen this program because seniors are among the groups most likely to experience medication harm.  PFC understands however that many seniors may not have the desire or ability to take on additional safe medication use responsibilities.  We also understand that efforts are needed to target other high-risk groups such as children and middle aged individuals (who according to recent report, experienced the greatest increase in fatal home medication errors).  To target these groups, PFC is developing a second campaign directed at female family caregivers who are key influencers or decision makers on family healthcare issues.


Both of these programs are currently under development and PFC plans to launch them during late 2008.  To help cover the costs associated with the development and dissemination of these programs, PFC is inviting individuals to provide tax deductible donations in whatever amounts they can afford.


For questions about our safe medication use outreach programs, please contact Michael Negrete at mnegrete@pharmacyfoundation.org or (916) 779-1410 x333.