Medication Management Explained in a Way Patients Can Understand

By David Fetterolf, Stratus Video President

Miscommunication is correlated with nearly 60% of serious adverse events reported to the Joint Commission. Limited English proficiency (LEP) patients are more likely to experience these adverse events due to language barriers. Poor understanding of medication management is particularly dangerous.

There has been a significant increase in recent years in the number of medication errors in the United States. A Clinical Toxicology study indicated a major increase in serious medication errors. The number more than doubled from 2000 to 2012.

Medication errors included:

  • Incorrect dose
  • Consumption of wrong medication
  • Consuming meds 2X

 

Critical outcomes were most often correlated with:

  • Cardiovascular drugs
  • Analgesics (mostly containing acetaminophen or opioids)
  • Hormones/hormone antagonists (mostly containing insulin)

 

For children, medication management falls on the shoulders of the parents. When patients, parents or caregivers who are managing medication for children have limited English proficiency (LEP), the potential for medication error drastically increases.

A study by the National Institutes of Health found that medication errors were significantly higher among LEP patients in comparison to English speaking patients and were the principal cause of adverse events for both.

This indicates that medication errors can be reduced when medication management is explained in the patient’s preferred language. Providers can ensure a clear understanding of dosage, frequency, side effects and any other key factors pertaining to medication management through the use of a qualified medical interpreter. With extensive training and knowledge in medical terminology, cultural competency, the code of ethics and professional interpreting standards, qualified interpreters are equipped to convey medication management communication in a way that LEP patients can understand.

Stratus Video offers a complete language access solution that includes over-the-phone, video remote, and onsite interpretation along with an easy-to-use translation service. We are committed to improving lives through better communication. Click here to learn more about the impact of language services on LEP patient safety.

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