Ask A Magnet Nurse: Medication Verification For Patients Includes Herbal Supplements And Vitamins

Desiree Taylor RN, Clinical Nurse Educator at Candler Hospital

Smart Living: St. Joseph’s/Candler has several safeguards in place to avoid drug interactions for patients in the hospital, including the portable, computerized system of Bedside Medication Verification, or BMV. Patients can help their nurses greatly by providing a list of their current medications when they are admitted, but is there anything more that nurses need to know?

Desiree Taylor: Yes, along with any medications you are taking at home, we also want to know if you are taking any herbal supplements or vitamins. Though not the same as medicine, some of these things can cause an adverse drug interaction.

SL: In what way?

DT: There are several different ways. It depends on what you are taking the supplement for. Some thin your blood, which can cause you to bleed easily. There are dietary supplements that may pull fluid from the body, which can affect a person’s blood pressure. These varying interactions are why we need your complete profile to confirm what is safe and what may be unsafe to take with the medications your doctor prescribed. Safety is our first priority.

SL: So the vitamins and supplements are entered into the BMV system along with medications?

DT: Yes. Patients will receive armbands with their identification information coded onto it during registration. Physician’s orders are then reviewed by the pharmacist and entered into the system. The pharmacist’s profile is also double-checked by the nurse. During a patient’s hospital stay, the nurse will roll the portable BMV cart up to the patient’s bedside to administer medications. The BMV technology will give the nurse a safety warning if there is any reason the patient should not receive the medication. It ensures safety for the patient and accuracy for the nurse.

SL: Is it possible that a patient may have to postpone or stop taking a supplement after their hospital stay?

DT: Yes, we complete the same medication checklist during discharge that we did during admission. For example, if you were taking a supplement that affected your blood sugar level, but the physician has prescribed medication that adjusts your blood sugar level, we can let you know not to take the supplement when you get home. Also, we will have all of the patient’s medication information saved in our system in case you are admitted to the hospital again in the future.

SL: So even if I just take a multi-vitamin every day, the nurses need to know about it?

DT: Yes, whatever it is…gingko biloba, licorice root, anything. You can help us tremendously by letting us know everything you’re taking and why.
  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
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St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000