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Take a tour of ISMP’s ConsumerMedSafety.org website: Provide your patients with a link to the site

April 10, 2014

It has been 5 years since we first launched our premier consumer web-site, ConsumerMedSafety.org. The website is a user-friendly, online resource that employs technology and other tools to organize and impart knowledge and understanding about safe medication practices in ways that consumers can easily access, view, and use. The authentic, real-world content empowers consumers to play a vital role in their own medication safety. As the first and only website designed by a non-profit organization exclusively to bring the message of medication error prevention directly to the consumer, ConsumerMedSafety.org connects users to practical content via nine unique pathways. Some content is also available in Spanish. Here’s a quick tour through the site!

  1. A scrolling marquee provides vital and newly posted content, including the latest drug safety warnings and advice from experts. Current examples include the latest on bleeding risks with PRADAXA (dabigatran), a newer anticoagulant, and new advice from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about flammable wart removers. 
  2. Featured articles highlight medication safety topics and breaking news about potentially harmful effects when taking medications and how to avoid them. Current examples include three myths that lead to fatal medication events in the home, and a vaccine campaign to “Give birth to the end of Hep B (hepatitis B).” 
  3. Medication safety articles provide memorable stories about actual errors (de-identified) that have happened and how to prevent them. To date, there are hundreds of articles that capture personal accounts of medication errors categorized around eight priority topics: receiving a prescription; purchasing medications; taking medications at home; storing and discarding medications; receiving medications in the hospital; keeping children safe; over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, herbs, and vitamins; and specialty topics. For example, under keeping children safe are stories about children who consumed medications believing they were candy mints or dissolving breath mint films (e.g., Listerine strips), and “true confessions from a good mom”—a feature in which a mother describes “safety gaps” in keeping medicines away from curious children. 
  4. An over-the-counter (OTC) medicines section is our newest addition to ConsumerMedSafety.org. In this section consumers can navigate through ten topics: the basics; safe medicine storage and disposal; drug interactions, reactions, and allergies; multi-symptom and combination products; medicine for children; measuring the dose of liquid medicines; safety tips about medicine labels and packages; OTC drug abuse; herbals, vitamins, and homeopathic medicines; and OTC pain relievers. The content is delivered through frequently asked questions (FAQs), diagrams, tables, slide shows, checklists, quizzes, and knowledge games similar to Jeopardy. 
  5. The insulin safety center is an exclusive resource dedicated entirely to medication error prevention with the use of insulin—one of the most frequent high-alert medications involved in harmful errors. This center provides consumers with the basics about insulin, errors typically encountered, and realistic strategies to prevent errors. Safety tips when using an insulin pen is just one of many offerings. 
  6. The medication safety toolbox encourages consumers to download and engage various tools designed to help read a prescription, understand medicine labels, keep track of medications, measure liquid doses, or learn which medicines can’t be crushed. The toolbox also offers more than 2 dozen videos consumers can watch and almost a dozen leaflets designed to inform consumers about the types of errors and adverse events that might occur with a specific drug and how to avoid them. 
  7. Periodically, a new Top 10 list can be accessed on the site. Both the current and past lists can be viewed. The current list describes the top 10 things consumers can do to stay safe when taking medicines in the hospital. Examples of past top 10 lists include: steps parents should take to prevent medicine mishaps; safety tips when using topical medicines; safety tips when traveling with medicines; safety tips when measuring liquid medicine doses; and others. 
  8. The latest FDA medication safety alerts are compiled in a special section of the site, along with critical information about drug recalls, drug shortages, and Medication Guides that address issues specific to particular drugs to help consumers avoid serious adverse events. Videos, podcasts, and FDA advice on safety topics are also available. 
  9. The ISMP consumer medication errors reporting program is prominently displayed and easily accessible on ConsumerMedSafety.org. Consumers are invited to tell their stories about medication hazards or errors through a user-friendly, online reporting format or by calling ISMP. In 5 years, ISMP has received close to 1,500 reports from consumers, with annual reporting rates increasing steadily. This reporting program has raised awareness of the “human” aspect of errors from the consumers’ perspective.
This advertisement-free website content combined with interactive delivery methods, easy site navigation, special graphics, quality search engines, and connectivity to other trustworthy websites has made ConsumerMedSafety.org a valuable resource for consumers. Traffic to the site has been increased by links to it on the websites of key patient safety partners, including federal government agencies, state health departments, pharmacy and medical boards, professional organizations, national and local news media, medical publishers, library systems, universities, non-profit agencies, and health systems. We encourage all hospitals and health systems with a website accessible to patients to link to ConsumerMedSafety.org. ISMP is counting on you to invite your patients to visit ConsumerMedSafety.org often.
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