|Welcome to the 19th annual observance of the National Council on Patient Information and Education's "Talk About Prescriptions" Month. For years, we have been urging consumers and patients to ask questions and "get the answers" about their medicines; and we have been encouraging health care professionals to "give the answers." Such two-way communication - at the point of prescribing and dispensing medicines - is vital to promoting patients' ability to get the full benefit from their medicine, while using it safely and appropriately.
Today's technologically-advanced health care practices are implementing computerized patient medical records, electronic prescribing, and going no further than their personal digital assistants for up-to-date drug information. Still, for many patients and their caregivers, old-fashioned talking is their best defense in patient safety when medicines are part of their regimen.
And what's a great starting point for that conversation? The consumer medicine information (CMI) leaflet that is printed out at the pharmacy and given to the patient with his/her prescription medicine. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 89% of people picking up new prescriptions receive these CMI leaflets. Are they read, saved, and deemed useful?
NCPIE is serving as a catalyst and convener by bringing together over two dozen organizations to ensure that CMI meets specific goals for usefulness by 2006. To learn more about NCPIE's "CMI Initiative," click here.
Meanwhile, as part of "Talk About Prescriptions" Month, why not remind patients and caregivers about the important information in their leaflets? Once they leave your office and pharmacy, understanding the information on that piece of paper may make the difference between complying fully with their regimen, returning prematurely, or even landing in the hospital if problems with their medicine arise.
Your Medicine Information: Read It and Heed It. Regardless of your role in developing or distributing this information, patients will look to you for help in understanding it so that they can get the most value from their medicine. Good information - whether oral or written - is good medicine. And that's a message worth remembering during "Talk About Prescriptions" Month, and all year round.