Friday, January 18, 2013

Guest Post: A Better Way to Manage Medications

By Brian Gough
Beelines Medication List

I was surprised and unprepared when I had to become a caregiver for my elderly mother.  She fell and broke her leg when she was 78. During surgery to repair her leg, her doctors discovered serious heart issues. She came home with handwritten directions for taking 17 different medications, most on a daily basis. My father, who could help with many of her daily needs, is legally blind. Managing her medications was overwhelming for both of them. This event is not unlike other situations that thrust sandwichers like me into becoming caregivers for their aging parents, and was the catalyst for what became the Beelines Medication List.


I needed a simple tool that would help me record and organize my mother’s medications. Reading the undifferentiated information on the handwritten list was stressful and time consuming. My first thought was to design a version presenting the same information in a format that was clear and unambiguous. For the last 2 years, I have used the Beelines MedList to fill my mother’s pill box and take to all her doctor’s appointments. This list has given all of us confidence and reassurance that the medications she takes daily are dosed correctly and comply with her doctor’s orders. It has been so successful for my family that I wanted to make the Beelines MedList available to anyone who needs a more user-friendly tool to manage their medications.

Why create and use a medication list? There are many reasons that have been well documented about why it is important to use a medication list. The benefits for patients include:
  • Reducing their risk from medication errors;
  • Becoming more engaged participants in their own healthcare;
  • Improving clinical outcomes;
  • Gaining knowledge regarding safe medication management and effective communication with their healthcare providers; and
  • Becoming advocates for themselves and others regarding safe medication management and communication with healthcare providers. (1)


A medication list can save your life. As you may have already read on this blog regarding dementia and delirium, without clear medication records, there is a higher risk of adverse drug interaction in patient care. “Bring a full medication list to any new health professional. Many drugs that act on the brain can cause delirium, including narcotic painkillers, sedatives, stimulants, sleeping pills, antidepressants, Parkinson’s disease medication and antipsychotics. Even antihistamines and some drugs for digestive problems, allergies and severe asthma can contribute to delirium. Additionally, all medications should be reported because they could interact with drugs given in the hospital.” (2)

At home, my mother’s Beelines MedList has served many of the roles listed above. One other effective use, I have found, is to post her medication list on the refrigerator in case of an emergency. (Emergency medical teams will look for critical information on the refrigerator if they are responding to a call for help.)

Whether you use the free Beelines Medication List at or another medication list tool to organize medications for daily dosing and compliance, don’t wait to take this important step in caring for yourself or others.

(1) "How to Create an Accurate Medication List in the Outpatient Setting through a Patient-Centered Approach." Kathy Leonhardt, MD, MPH; Deborah Bonin, RHIA, CPHQ; Patti Pagle, RN, BSN; Aurora Health Care / Walworth County, WI, 2007.

(2) "Dementia: When a Hospital Visit Becomes a Medical Emergency." Nanette J. Davis, Ph.D.;; Sunday, September 2, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Great post!

    I really like the idea of putting a picture of the pill with the medication information. It's such an easy way to make ensure that people get the proper medication.