Since 2003, the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health has funded more than 60 Rural Community Grant projects, providing resources to rural coalitions working to address health challenges in their community. One of these successful projects was the Medication Safety Red Bag Program. Langlade Hospital, Langlade County Departments of Health and Aging, and the Antigo Fire & EMS Department developed a program to address medication safety and reduce accidents related to medication misuse. The coalition, Community Partners for Medication Safety, used grant funds to purchase different sizes of red bags to distribute to patients discharged from the hospital, in assisted living and others in the county. Recipients were instructed to keep their medication in the bag and bring it along to every medical appointment. EMS and first responders were trained to look for red bags on calls and bring them along. The partners have distributed over 2,000 Red Bags. Poisoning by drugs, medicinal and biological substances decreased by 50% since the project began. In 2009, the Joint Commission reviewed the Red Bag program, shared it with other hospitals and recommended it as a best practice.
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