Pill Boxes: Improving patients' compliance while maintaining medication's quality
Compliance with the prescribed medications is important for patients to get optimal treatment effects.SALINDA SOPIAN
Compliance with the prescribed medications is important for patients to get optimal treatment effects. Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and asthmatic patients need to be extra compliant with their medicines in order to control their health problems.
Compliance with medications also helps to speed the recovery from symptoms experienced by patients.
However, being compliant with medicines is difficult for some patients, especially when they have a whole bunch of medicines to be taken every single day with a very complicated medication regimen.
Additionally, there are also patients with cognitive problems such as easy forgetfulness and difficulty understanding the instructions for taking medication. This situation is common among elderly patients. All these factors cause them to be non-compliant with their medications.
The benefits of using pill boxes
In general, effective medication management emphasises storing medications in their original packaging.
This is because all the important information is on the drug label, such as the patient's name, the name and strength of the drug, the dosage and frequency with which the medication should be taken, as well as the way and time of taking the medication.
All this information can help with the correct administration of medications.
In certain circumstances, however, the use of pill boxes is advised, particularly to help with noncompliance issues.
There are different types of commercial pill boxes available on the market. The choice of this pill box depends on several factors, such as its cost, suitability, and comfort for the patient. Affordable, lightweight, and easy-to-carry pill boxes are often the patient's choice.
A pill box is a container used to organise the medicines according to the dosing time. Living-alone elderly patients, busy patients who do not have time to check their medicines every day, and patients with cognitive impairments are most benefited by the pillbox.
Medicines kept in each slot of the pill boxes allow the patients to take them at the same time without missing any doses. When there is still medication in one particular slot, it indicates that the medication has not been taken by the patient as prescribed.
Not only that, but the use of pill boxes is also very helpful for patients who regularly have outdoor tasks or are on vacation.
When using pill boxes, the patient no longer needs to carry a large supply of medicines. The storage of medicines has become more structured, which facilitates the administration of medicines.
Tips on the use of pill boxes
Several important points need to be emphasized when using pill boxes to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the medicines included in them are not affected. Proper use of pill boxes is also important to avoid the risk of medication errors.
Use the pill box for an appropriate duration of time.
One of the things that need to be given top consideration is how long the pill boxes will be used. Although a pill box is useful for administering medication, it should only be used for a brief period of time, such as a week.
After all the medications have been consumed as prescribed, the medication for the following week's dose can be placed in the pill box.
Long-term, continuous usage is discouraged. One of the reasons is to prevent the medication from deteriorating in large quantities if it is improperly stored for a long period of time.
Furthermore, placing the medication inside the pill box on a weekly basis can aid in improved patient adherence monitoring.
The medication is retained in its original blister pack.
Do not remove the medicines from their original blister pack when placing them in a pill box.
The information on the blister pack about the medication's name, strength, and expiration date is essential to the patient, carer, or health professional when needed as a future reference.
In addition, keeping the medication within the blister pack can prevent physical interactions between different types of tablets. These physical interactions can affect the medication's stability and efficacy.
Furthermore, their original packaging is used to protect the medicines from heat, moisture, and air.
Consult a pharmacist or another individual for guidance
Elderly patients or those who have trouble managing their own medications are encouraged to seek assistance from other people while placing the medication into the pill box. Alternatively, the patient may consult a pharmacist, if necessary.
Besides pharmacists, family members or carers can assist with organising and placing the patient's medications in the correct pill box.
A list or a medication administration schedule can be prepared in advance based on the doctor's prescriptions. The medications are subsequently arranged and placed in the pill box in accordance with the prepared list or schedule.
Nonetheless, patients and carers should always double-check when preparing the pillbox, especially with the look-alike medicines, to prevent any unnecessary administration errors.
Track the treatment changes regularly
Patients or their carers are also advised to keep updated on the medications in the pill box.
Write every important piece of information related to the medication onto a piece of paper, including the medicine's active ingredient, the strength, the dose, and the date it was started.
Always keep the record handy and remember to update the list, especially when there are adjustments made by the prescribers. If an adjustment is made, the medications filled in the pill box must be rearranged accordingly.
Apply the “First Expiry, First Out” concept
If there are two groups of the same medication with different expiration dates to be included in the pill box, the patient should adopt the concept of "First Expiry, First Out".
Check the expiration date and sort it out according to the expiration date. Take the medicines with a shorter expiration date and keep the longer ones for next time.
This might help prevent patients from ingesting expired medications. In addition, this method may help minimize losses resulting from expired medications.
Store the pill box filled with the medication in the right way
The patient should keep the pill box at the proper temperature, out of the reach of children, and away from heat sources, direct sunlight, and excessive humidity after placing the medication in it.
The appropriate method of storage ensures that the medication remains intact and effective. Additionally, unintentional medication errors can be prevented.
After all, the main ideas behind using pill boxes are to increase our patients' compliance with medicines, ease them and their carers, reduce medication errors, and eventually achieve ultimate health outcomes.
Certain groups of patients are advised to use pill cases to organise their medications in accordance with the prescribed dosage and frequency.
However, proper use of this pill capsule is necessary to preserve the quality of the medication and prevent medication errors. Pill boxes should be kept and used with a list of medicines that includes dose and frequency information so that they can be used as a quick reference, especially in case of an emergency.
If there are any inquiries regarding medicines, please call the National Pharmacy Call Centre (NPCC) at the toll-free number 1-800-88-6722 during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 pm, except on public holidays.
Salinda Sopian is a pharmacist from Hospital Sultan Ismail in Johor Bahru.