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Patient Safety Awareness Week

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- During the week of March 4 to 10, communities across the country are hosting a variety of events and sponsoring initiatives as part of Patient Safety Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Patient Safety Foundation. 

Each year, NPSF sponsors Patient Safety Awareness Week to encourage hospitals to actively engage their communities in patient safety activities and in all aspects of their healthcare. The 2007 theme, "Patient Safety: A Road Taken Together," emphasizes patient and family-centered care and promotes building partnerships between providers and patients, families and advocates. 

The focus this year is on patients and providers finding ways in which to create effective, positive partnerships in mutual pursuit of safe patient care. 

On the national level, NPSF has partnered with two agencies to raise public awareness about the role of patients and families in ensuring safe patient care. NPSF and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality are promoting safe medication use by offering tips on Medication Safety and encouraging patients to bring their medications when they see their doctor, nurse or pharmacist. 

The American Pharmacists Association suggests the following to prevent medicine mix-ups:

1. Be sure that your name is on every container of medica¬tion. If the medicine is for a child, be sure that the child's name is on the label.
2. Never take a medication out of its original container to store it.
3. Highlight the patient's name, the medication name and the expiration date (if any) with a marker so they can be easily seen. Use a different color marker for each member of the family.
4. Read the entire label every time you take medication yourself or give it to a family member.
5. If you have stopped taking a particular medicine but have some left, check with your pharmacist or doctor. Many medications should be taken until they are all gone, and having leftovers could indicate that the medication was not taken properly.
6. Properly dispose of any medicine that has not been used in six months.
7. Do not share medicines. Medication should be taken only by the patient for whom it was prescribed.
8. Keep a permanent, updated list of all medications taken by each family member as part of your family's history. Include both prescription and non-prescription medicines.