Teaching the ABCs of Prescription Drug Safety

Over six million people in the United States misuse addictive medications. Carol Boyd, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, spent years trying to develop the ABCs of Prescription Drug Safety to address this public hABCs of prescription drug safetyealth crisis, but she struggled to get her idea off the ground. The Healthcare Innovation Impact Program helped her find a new way to get this educational intervention into the right hands.

When patients are prescribed a potentially addictive medication, they often receive an assortment of papers filled with complex language and unnecessary information. The ABCs break this dense and disorganized process down into simple steps, which are carefully laid out in an easy-to-read poster and brochure.

“You shouldn’t be given something that you cannot understand — there is no way it’s going to increase medication adherence,” Boyd said. “But the ABCs might.”

HiiP worked with Boyd and the team of researchers at the U-M School of Nursing’s Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health (DASH) to reimagine the program. In its updated format, the ABCs meet several key objectives: The message can be administered in three minutes or less, aligns with federal and state legal requirements and goes beyond opioids to cover all addictive drug classes.

“We knew this was a valuable resource and we went to work figuring out how to make it convenient for prescribers to order and administer,” said HiiP Innovation Coach Ann Fitzsimons.

Finding a way to distribute the product without losing control of content and quality was crucial, so HiiP facilitated the development of an online store — a first for the U-M School of Nursing. With a few clicks, health care providers and other organizations can order the ABCs of Prescription Drug Safety and have copies delivered right to their door.

“A faculty member simply couldn’t have done this,” Boyd said. “I believe in it, but I didn’t have the time to make it what it’s become. We needed HiiP to make it happen.” 

Learn more about the ABCs at nursing.umich.edu/DASH.