Medication Safety and Patient Discharge Instructions

The elderly are considered as a vulnerable population as this period is characterized by a decrease in the functioning and physiological state of the human body. As such, most of these elderly patients also suffer from other chronic disease such as Diabetes, COPD, arthritis and such that can further limit the physical, psychological, emotional and cognitive capacity of the individual. Due to this, most patients have complex medication regimens which they often fail to understand along with other prescribed treatment regimens provided by health care workers. They are often unable to perform self-care, monitor their own symptoms or act immediately to prevent further worsening of their symptoms or illness. They often live on their own and do not have other people such as a spouse, a child or a caregiver to look after their needs, thus, social support is nearly non-existent. It is essential, therefore, for health care workers to provide proper health education and discharge planning as well as conduct the necessary follow-ups on the patient.

To promote safety among geriatric patients, communication skills must be integrated throughout the health care continuum of assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation. It is also essential to have a strong knowledge regarding family theory, principles of communication, group dynamics and cultural diversity as vulnerable clients frequently come from varied cultures, have different beliefs and values, few sources of social support and may face language barriers. Health care workers should identify patient needs and the available resources that can be utilized. Collaboration with other agencies or allied health professionals is also vital to establish effective health promotion, compliance to treatment regimen and disease prevention.