Thursday, April 25, 2013
How to avoid taking the wrong pills

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
One of the more common medical errors is related to things that look alike. For example, if there are two pill bottles side by side, the wrong bottle might be selected. If there are two bags of IV fluid side by side the wrong one might be used. For that reason special care is taken in hospitals. For example, there are now machines that contain only the medication that a specific patient needs to take. Therefore, the nurse can only get the correct medication. There are no longer bottles to take medications from. Unfortunately, that same thing does not happen outside of the hospital. We frequently have all of our pill bottles in the same medicine cabinet. That might not be a problem if we have taken the medication for a long time. We know what it looks like. However, that is not true in every situation. We might have someone that we take care of. We might go on vacation and have someone else come to provide their care while we are gone. The new caretaker may not know what the medication looks like. In instances such as those, it is important to label the medication carefully. We need to make sure that we have the correct name of the medication and we need to make sure we have the correct number of times to be taken daily. We need to be sure that we have the correct times of the day to give the medication. With the presence of smart phones, we can even provide a picture of what the pill looks like. You need to do the same kind of thing if you have a babysitter that needs to give medication before a child goes to bed. We once had a babysitter who had to give our daughter a dose of antibiotic for an ear infection. We explained what medication, how much to give and when to give it. We asked if she had any questions. She only had one. She wanted to know which ear to pour it into. When we give medication to others, we get used to doing it. It becomes routine. We do not realize that if someone else needs to do it, it is brand new to them. Directions need to be clear. If it is only one medication, it needs to be put apart from all the others. That will avoid taking the incorrect bottle. We need to be sure that the medication stays in the original bottle. That is not only true of medication. It is true of other things. There have been many reported poisonings related to this. People will take a poisonous liquid and store it in a soda bottle. Then someone comes along who does not know that. Look alike mistakes are not confined to hospitals. Hospitals know about the problem and take steps to avoid potential mistakes. We need to take similar steps when we give medications outside the hospital setting.

Community Health Fair A Community Health Fair will be held on Sunday, May 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Union United Methodist Church in Bridgeville. Presenters include Nanticoke Health Services, Nemours Health and Preventive Services, Alzheimer's Association, Senior Companions, Cheer Center of Georgetown and the Lyme Disease Association of the Eastern Shore. Everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, call the church office at 302-337-7409, ext. 16 or Joan Hastings, program director, at 302-423-5682.

April is STD Prevention Month Young people aged 15 to 24 account for nearly half of the 19 million new sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occurring in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To prevent the spread of STDs, Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) recommends that parents talk to their youth about preventing infection. "Parents need to become 'askable parents,'" said DPH Medical Director Awele Maduka-Ezeh, MD. "Being 'askable' means that your teen or young adult considers you approachable, open to communication, and willing to answer their questions. To learn more about how to become an 'askable parent,' visit the American Sexual Health Association web page for tips and information. Together, we can reduce the incidence of STDs." STDs pose a serious public health threat, affecting young and old, rich and poor, of all races and sexual orientations. Since STDs often have no signs or symptoms, screening and early diagnosis are vital to prevent serious health consequences. For more information about STDs, visit or Visit the American Sexual Health Association online at for more information about how to become an "askable parent."

Hospice Lunch Bunch Lecture Delaware Hospice's Family Support Center will hold a Lunch Bunch Lecture on Friday, May 3, where Dr. Judy Pierson, clinical psychologist, will discuss "What the Dying Can Teach us about the Living," at the Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Those who work with the dying receiving hospice care learn a lot about life from those facing the end of life. Attendees will hear about "the wisdom of the dying" that can help guide and develop meaningful practices for living today. Learn about the five most common regrets expresssed by those who are dying and how to reduce the risk of experiencing similar regrets. Discover how to embrace the gifts that living and loving fully extend to all. Lunch Bunch Lectures are organized by Delaware Hospice's Family Support Center and are open to the public. Registration is required as seating capacity is limited, and the cost of lunch is $5 per person. Register by Wednesday, May 1, by contacting Vicki Costa at 856-7717, ext. 1129, or

New Walk-In Clinic in Georgetown Nanticoke Health Services will be expanding services with the addition of Nanticoke Immediate Care to be located at 505 W Market St. in Georgetown. Nanticoke Immediate Care will be a walk-in clinic open seven days a week, no appointment needed, providing care for minor illness and injury. Nanticoke Immediate Care is expected to open early July. Nanticoke Immediate Care is a part of the Nanticoke Physician Network. "Because it's a part of the network, patients will have access to Nanticoke's patient portal system allowing them to access information about their visit," said Thomas Brown, senior vice president at Nanticoke and president of the Nanticoke Physician Network. "And, for patients whose primary care physician is a member of the Nanticoke Physician Network, their doctor can easily see information on the care provided and any tests results completed during their visit to Nanticoke Immediate Care. This allows for a continuum of care for patients. Better communication means better care."

Alzheimer's Caregiver Workshop Lofland Park Center at Genesis in Seaford will host an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Workshop on Wednesday, May 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The free workshop will include: "The Basics" presented by Dr. Lawrence Kemp, "Legal and Financial Issues" presented by Michele Procino-Wells, Esq., "Behaviors and Communication" presented by Ruth Pryor, geriatric social worker, and Hospice Information presented by Cindy Drew, nurse practitioner for Compassionate Care Hospice. Lunch will be provided and pre-registration is required by May 16. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee, Sussex County program coordinator, at 854-9788.

Secretary Landgraf to speak A keynote address by Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf highlights the annual Families in Crisis Conference (FICC), "It Takes a Village," on Friday, May 3, at the Ellendale Fire Hall. The sixth Ray Lloyd Memorial Award will also be awarded. To nominate someone, or for more information on the award, call Carol Hall at 670-1216. For more information about the conference including scholarships and registration, contact secretary/treasurer, Betty Metzler at 628-4896 or

ALS Walk at Laurel Middle The Laurel Middle School Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society is hosting its 5th Annual ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease Walk on Saturday, May 18. This is a one hour walk that can be done any time between 9 and 11 a.m. The walk will be held in front of Laurel Middle School. There is a $25 registration fee and walkers are encouraged to form teams. The goal is for each team to raise at least $50. The top three teams raising the most money will receive awards. Come walk in honor or memory of someone affected by ALS. All proceeds go to the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Association. For more information and to register your team, contact Amy Handy or Kim Ralph at Laurel Middle School, 875-6110.

CPR classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $45. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Professional conference for nurses Delaware Hospice will hold a complimentary professional conference for nurses, "Facilitating Positive End-of-Life Experiences," on Tuesday, May 7, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the Duncan Center, 500 West Loockerman St., Dover. Participants will receive 4.0 continuing education hours. Featured speakers Michelle Procino, Esq., and Amber Woodland, Esq., will present "Advance Care Planning and Preparing the Advance Healthcare Directive." Additional sessions will include: "An Overview of Hospice Services," "Goals of Care Discussion," and "Final Days and Final Hours." Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., and breakfast will be provided, as well as opportunities for networking. Registration is required for this free Delaware Hospice event, as seating is limited. Register by Wednesday, May 1, or learn more by contacting Katie Berna, MHA, BSN, CHPN, associate director of education, at or 302-530-2388.

Journaling workshop Delaware Hospice invites anyone coping with a loss to a "Write Your Heart Out" journaling workshop from 5 to 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 9, at the Delaware Hospice Millsboro office, 315 Old Landing Rd., Millsboro. The workshop will focus on examining your grief journey through this safe, non-judgmental and therapeutic activity of journaling. There is no charge to attend but registration is required as space is limited. To register, contact Midge DiNatale, bereavement counselor, by May 6, at or 302-416-0581.

Asthma Awareness Day is May 11 The American Lung Association in Delaware, Bayhealth Medical Center, and Nemours Health and Prevention Services will host a carnival-themed asthma awareness day, "Asthma Under the Big Top," on Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Pavilions I & II at Bayhealth Kent General Hospital in Dover. Snacks and beverages will be provided. Families, children and caregivers are encouraged to attend this free event. To register or for more information, contact Nicole Goldsboro at 302-737-6414, ext. 16 or

Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group Cadia Rehab Renaissance near Millsboro is hosting and facilitating an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group that meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. All meetings are open to the public and interested parties are invited to attend. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. One person out of eight who reaches the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer's, as will one person out of every two who reaches the age of 85.

2013 Walk MS dates The Delaware Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has announced the 2013 Walk MS dates and is inviting all Delawareans to join the movement. Each year thousands of loved ones, friends, and neighbors throughout Delaware  from Wilmington's Riverfront to Sussex County's Baywood Greens  lace up and step out in solidarity, with hopes of creating a world free of MS. Last year, over a quarter million dollars was raised to help out the 1,550 Delawareans living with multiple sclerosis. The Twilight at Heritage Shores walk in Bridgeville will be held on May 31 and the walk at Baywood Greens will be held on June 7. To register, visit or call 302-655-5610.