Turning the Brown Bag Blue: A Q&A with HQI Pharmacist Cindy Warriner

Recently, Health Quality Innovators (HQI) launched the Blue Bag Initiative, an easy-to-use program to facilitate medication reconciliation and help your patients avoid medication errors. To learn more about the initiative and HQI’s quality improvement efforts, visit or view this video.

Q: What is the Blue Bag Initiative?

A: An extension of HQI’s efforts to reduce adverse drug events (ADEs), the Blue Bag Initiative offers pharmacists, physicians and other providers with a medication reconciliation program that is easy to implement in a variety of health care and community settings. As a participant, you will receive a toolkit including:

  • 25 reusable bags to hand out to patients at risk for ADEs.
  • 25 smaller bags for expired, discontinued or duplicative medications.
  • Marketing materials to promote Blue Bag events to patients, families and caregivers.
  • Medication review forms, education/evaluation materials and data collection worksheets.
  • Instructions to help you host a medication review event in your pharmacy, practice, long-term care facility, hospital or other community location.

Q: What are the requirements for participation?

A: This no-cost program is available to pharmacists, physicians and other health care providers in Maryland and Virginia. The toolkit helps you tailor this program to fit the specific needs of your patients and your community. It is designed for use in any setting including community pharmacies, physician practices, hospitals, and 55+ communities. HQI is here to assist you if you encounter any challenges along the way.

In return, we ask that you email the following information to once a month:

  • Number of Blue Bags given to participants
  • Number of participants screened
  • Number of participants screened with events identified
  • Number of adverse drug events identified
  • Number of expired medications or medications/OTC participants should NOT be taking

This information will help us demonstrate the impact and effectiveness of this program. We only need numbers; no protected health or personal information is requested.

Q: How does this program help patients and families?

A: Many patients, particularly seniors and those with chronic conditions, take three or more medications and see multiple clinicians. These patients are at higher risk for an adverse drug event and re-hospitalization. Regular reviews ensure that providers have access to a complete, accurate medication list and help prevent adverse drug events from occurring.

The initiative enhances patient-provider communication and empowers patients to take an active role in their health care by understanding their medications and how to take them safely. As a practicing pharmacist, I know how important it is to feel like you are helping your patients. I believe our participants will find this program rewarding.

Q: How do I sign up?

A: It is quick and easy to sign up. Email and provide your name and contact information. You can also reach HQI by phone, 804.289.5320.

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