What should you recommend to patients who mention they are travelling? Toni Riley from the RUM Project shares her recommendations
When patients come into the pharmacy and mention they are travelling, it’s important that pharmacists provide them information to properly assemble a medicine kit – whether for themselves or their family.
Sometimes the planning of the holiday and Christmas celebrations gets priority over what needs to be done before the trip! Below are suggestions of how you can help your patient prepare for a safe and healthy holiday.
One of the most important things when a patient mentions they are travelling is to ask them if they have all their prescription medicine.
It’s important that they have enough to last their trip, but also a little leftover in case they get delayed or unexpected events happen.
Go through all your patient’s prescriptions and check if they need anything, or remind them that they may need to go to the doctor to get another script.
It’s also important to remind patients that if they have any unwanted or expired medicines sitting at home in their medicine kit, to return them back to the pharmacy where they can be disposed of free and conveniently in the RUM bin.
Using the RUM bin is a safe and sustainable way to get rid of their medicines if they are sitting at home and no longer have a use.
Letter from a doctor and other information
If a patient is travelling overseas and takes many prescription medicines, remind them that it may be a good idea to get a letter from the GP with a list of medicines and often a good idea to have the GP include a diagnosis as well.
This is important in case there are bans on medicines in certain countries or if they find themselves seeking medical assistance overseas.
Also make sure they know that their medicines need to be clearly labelled to save confusion or the risk of medicines being removed in certain locations.
Patients should also be reminded to have all their insurance information on them and be aware of what their insurance covers.
There may be some patients that use medical equipment regularly such as syringes, needles or insulin pens.
If a patient suffers from diabetes or another condition that requires the use of sharps, make sure they have everything they need to self-manage their condition.
Medical equipment such as insulin pens must be packed in the hand luggage, as some sharps can potentially be too cold in the checked in luggage hold.
The patient should always ensure they have enough equipment for the plane trip and a little extra just in case luggage is lost in transit.
The patient should also ensure they have any requirements the airline may need, such as medical and doctor details.
Supplies to prevent illness or injury
It is always suggested to include basic supplies in their medicine kit to prevent illness or injury and save that trip to the overseas pharmacy.
This could be things like high-grade insect repellent, high-protection sunscreen such as SPF 50+, travel sickness medication, anti-diarrhoea medication, antihistamines, pain medication, cold and flu medication, cough syrup and oral rehydration medication.
All these items could save a patient from possibly being bedridden on their holiday.
Work out what your patient really needs
Some patients may become stressed about packing a medicine kit and they begin to put items in there that are not useful and are just taking up space.
Make sure that if a medicine is in there, patients know what it’s for and how to use it. If they don’t know how to use it or what it is, then it is best kept out of the medicine kit.
The Return Unwanted Medicines project is a federal government funded initiative that provides all Australians with a free and convenient way to dispose of unwanted and expired household medicines by returning them to their local pharmacy. To find out more, visit http://www.returnmed.com.au/