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Medication Hacks: Tips to reduce medication errors and save money

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It’s scary how easily a medication error can happen.

You might take the wrong pill at the wrong time, or you might take too much of a medicine. You could also stop using a medication because you feel better when you actually should continue to use it.

What’s scary is that medication errors can lead to an ER or hospital visit or even death. What’s even scarier is that the professionals working at health care facilities also may make a medication error that can affect you or a loved one. In fact, medical errors—which can include medication errors—are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., according to a 2016 study in The BMJ, a British medical journal.

Here are a few staggering statistics about medication errors:

1. Adverse drug events account for 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations each year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
2. Almost 5% of patients in hospitals experience an adverse drug event.
3. When transitions in care occur—say, a patient moves from one health care facility to another or when caregivers change—medication errors are common, the AHRQ reports.
4. The over prescription and overuse of opioids has led to numerous hospitalizations and even deaths.
5. Almost 33% of adults use five or more medications—increasing the chance of a medication error or adverse drug event.

It may be easy to understand how a patient in his or her home has a medication error—but what about trained health workers in a care setting? Even with training, there are several causes, including poor communication among health professionals, confusing and similar product names, job stress, or lack of product knowledge and training, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports.

In a large health facility, such as a hospital or assisted living, the need for stringent monitoring of the multiple medications used by any given patient is crucial.

How Compliance Packaging Helps

There’s one way that some pharmacies—usually smaller, independent ones—are helping to reduce medication errors. They are providing compliance packaging—sometimes called bubble packs or compliance packs—that separate medications into individual, daily doses. So, instead of getting your medications in separate pill bottles, the pharmacy has separated them and has provided information on when to use each medication.

Medical Arts Pharmacy of Sarasota is one place that uses compliance packaging, says pharmacist Raumi Joseph. The use of compliance packaging saves customers time and lowers the chance of medical errors. Medical Arts Pharmacy also can include over-the-counter medications in its compliance packaging, Joseph says.

Compliance packaging is provided to customers for no additional charge. At Water’s Edge of Bradenton, residents have the option to receive their medication delivery from Medical Arts Pharmacy for free in compliance packaging. This service virtually eliminates the need and the expense of a standard pill box that must be filled regularly by a registered nurse, family member/friend, or other medical professional.

One key to compliance packaging at Medical Arts Pharmacy is a customized chart for each patient that shows:

• all medications used
• prescribing doctors’ names
• the medication and prescription numbers
• a description of the pill
• information on what to take and when

Medical Arts Pharmacy strongly encourages that patients take this chart to their doctors, so they are clear on what patients use. Sometimes, the chart can alert doctors and patients to medications that may no longer be needed.

An additional advantage that Joseph has found is that compliance packaging does away with the need to pick up medications that, for various reasons, have been filled at various pharmacies in the area. “We reconcile those and synchronize the medications. We can do them all together,” Joseph says.

Medical Arts Pharmacy uses automated reminders to refill patients’ compliance packs regularly, so patients are not left without vital medications.

Feel free to contact Medical Arts Pharmacy at (941) 706-1777 or visit their website at should you have any questions about their services.

What we really like about Medical Arts Pharmacy is that their compliance packaging as well as the delivery or shipping are of no additional costs to the patient.

Saving Money on Medications

To help save money on medications, patients may sometimes under use their prescriptions without their doctor knowing. This also could lead to health problems and hospitalizations. Patients may do this to save money on often expensive drugs. If you don’t need compliance packs but you do use pricey medication(s), then Discount Med Direct is a great option to consider. This mail-order prescription service helps patient save 30% to 80% on their medication costs. Prescriptions can be shipped right to your door. Patients and their prescribing providers can order by phone, email, fax, or by visiting any of Discount Med Direct’s five locations—three in the Bradenton/Sarasota area, one in Plains, Pennsylvania, and one in Rockford, Illinois.

To use Discount Med Direct, simply give them a call at (877) 695-7888 or visit their website at

What we really like about Discount Med Direct is the substantial savings their customers can benefit from on their medications. They are a local company yet can ship to anywhere in the U.S. Their services are especially useful for individuals on Medicare that fall into the so-called “donut hole”—a time when your medication costs aren’t covered by Part D.