The Back of a Napkin: Great for Brainstorming, Not so Great for Medication Lists

November 22, 2022


The Back of a Napkin: Great for Brainstorming, Not so Great for Medication Lists

It’s a common scenario for hospital physicians: patients come to the Emergency Department without any idea of what medications they are taking. If we’re lucky, a patient may have a list of their medications scribbled on a napkin or scrap of paper stuffed in their wallet, but that’s a rarity. While the napkin list is better than nothing, it’s far from ideal because clinicians have to decipher illegible information and hunt down what’s missing at a critical time.  

Incomplete medication data impacts patient safety in every healthcare setting. In an ideal world, a patient’s accurate home medication list and fill history would be part of their electronic health record (EHR) and include all the medications prescribed by any doctor they see and filled by any pharmacy, but that’s often not the case. 

“This is too important for us to be complacent. Knowing what medications a patient is taking can make the difference between life or death, and medication errors are still the number-one source of unintended consequences in the clinical setting,” said Colin Banas, M.D., M.H.A., Chief Medical Officer of DrFirst, in a recent This Week Health TownHall podcast. 

Mark Weisman, M.D., CIO and CMIO at TidalHealth, interviewed Dr. Banas about the importance of accurate medication lists for patients. Listen to the podcast below to learn how complete medication data and AI are filling in the gaps to help physicians and other clinicians keep patients safe.


About DrFirst
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Since 2000, DrFirst has pioneered healthcare technology solutions and consulting services that securely connect people at touchpoints of care to improve patient outcomes.