'Blue folder' program developed to improve care
If Carolyn Leach’s plans are realized, over the next few weeks, you should be seeing lots of people with blue folders leaving Waldo County General Hospital. She has been working with a team to improve care as patients transition from one medical setting to another.
The blue folders should contain up-to-date medication lists (both prescription and over-the-counter medications), a plan of care document (or discharge instructions), and essential health information focused on actions the patient should be taking. Also in the folders will be a magnet to put on the patient’s refrigerator stating, “I have a medication list in my Blue Folder.”
The blue folder is designed to be taken to every doctor’s or hospital visit and the magnet will let ambulance personnel to look for the blue folder if they are called to your home in the case of an emergency.
The blue folder project was launched in June 2009 at the Bridgton Hospital. It was funded through a Maine Health Access Foundation Grant as a major medication safety initiative. Elderly patients are often taking many prescription medications from a number of different doctors. And they often also take over-the-counter medications that were not prescribed, which can create drug-interaction issues. Inaccurate medication lists are often given to the emergency department and other areas of patient contact and can pose a serious safety risk. And, it may be even worse if the patient cannot communicate with staff.
Discharge from the hospital is another high risk point for patients. Patients may be placed on a medicine that will interact with another because they have given hospital staff an inaccurate list of the medications they are currently taking. Having the blue folder with their current updated medication list with them at every healthcare-related visit should help eliminate that problem. The blue folder should also remind providers that the current medication list needs to be updated every time a change in medications is made.
Waldo County General Hospital will join the list of hospitals using the blue folders beginning Oct. 1. If you have any questions about the blue folders, call Carolyn Leach, RN, the hospital Quality Coordinator at 930-2570 or email her at email@example.com.