FORT LEE, Va. (July 30, 2009) – Most of the patients seen at the Troop Medical Clinic are between the ages of 18 and 22 years old and can run two miles in less than 15 minutes.

It is also true that they are rarely ill, and if they are ill, an over-the-counter medication will most often take care of their needs. So why is there a need for medication reconciliation with this age group of patients?

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations is the accrediting body for health care institutions. Their main concern is ensuring health care institutions are delivering safe health care. They have established many patient safety goals, of which, medication reconciliation is critical. The purpose of this goal is to ensure that what the patient is taking is the same as what the doctor has prescribed and that medications prescribed by other health care providers, over the counter medications, supplements and herbal remedies are all reviewed for relevance and potential interactions. The patient should understand the what, why, and how to take their medications.

As harmless as one thinks over-the counter drugs are, there can be very serious interactions and side effects caused by these non-prescription medications.

For example, the maximum dose of acetaminophen is 4000mg in 24 hours (which is currently being reevaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and lowered to 2000mg). Acetaminophen can be in a cold capsule, cough preparations and pain medications which could easily cause an overdose of acetaminophen if all are taken in a short period of time. Excessive doses of acetaminophen are known to cause irreversible damage to the liver.

Careful study of the medication labels is a must. Antibiotics may interfere with the effectiveness of some birth control pills. Caffeine pills and drinks are popular among young people. Caffeine can cause irregular heart beat and gastric upset. Many diet preparations and diet supplements including body building preparations can be dangerous and interact poorly with prescription drugs. Herbal medications can also cause problems. Vitamin E can cause prolonged bleeding from a minor cut or during surgery.

Always inform a health care provider of every single medication one takes, including over the counter, herbal remedies, supplements and prescription medications. It is best to keep a list of all of these which you can refer to and that you can provide as needed to health care providers.

At the TMC, as in all the other clinics at Kenner Army Health Clinic, doctors reconcile patients’ medication. Clinic screeners document all drugs, including over-the-counter, herbal medications, vitamins and caffeine products. Providers then see the patient and discuss with them what medications they need to be taking and adjust the medication list. The new, reconciled medication list is then handed to the patient. By the time a patient leaves the TMC, they have had an opportunity to discuss their medications and any other questions about their health care with the exit nurse.

All of this is designed to keep young Troops and all health care beneficiaries safe and healthy.

If one has questions about their medications, make an appointment to see a health care professional. If one needs help organizing what and how one should be taking your medications. The Kenner Army Health Clinic pharmacists are also available to review patients’ medication lists.