Medication Safety Articles

 

People who have a severe life-threatening allergic reaction to bee stings, peanuts, shellfish, or other causes must get help immediately. A medicine called epinephrine (adrenaline) slows down allergic reactions and can prevent a reaction from getting worse. Doctors often recommend that patients (or parents of young children) carry epinephrine injection with them in a prefilled syringe or at least keep one close by. EpiPen or one of its generic equivalents is then prescribed.

A woman on vacation in another state got sick and a doctor prescribed an antibiotic, Biaxin (clarithromycin). She went to a pharmacy near where she was visiting to fill the prescription. Twelve days later, after returning home and finishing the antibiotic, she received a call from her mail-order pharmacy company.

Patients need to be alert to the many risks associated with new prescriptions. Typically, during a visit to the physician or nurse practitioner, you may be handed a prescription to have filled at your local pharmacy. Make sure that you know the name of the medication prescribed and its' purpose before you leave the office.

Medications for children are frequently ordered by the "dropperful". There are several problems with these orders. First there is too much room for misinterpretation of what might constitute a dropperful. One individual might consider it to be a dropper filled to the upper calibration mark.

Catapres-TTS (transdermal therapeutic system) patches contain the medicine clonidine, which is used to treat high blood pressure. The patch is applied to the skin where it slowly releases the medicine into the body over a specific period of time.

Cholesterol-lowering medicines can cause a variety of muscle problems. These side effects can range from mild soreness to a potentially deadly condition called rhabdomyolysis (pronounced rab-doe-my-o-ly-sis).

Dangerous mix-up's between regular insulin U-100 (100 units of insulin per mL of solution) and U-500 (500 units per mL) can occur. A mL is about 1/30th of an ounce and insulin vials usually contain 10 mL.

Many parents draw liquid medicines into syringes to make them easier to give to children. But did you know it could be dangerous if you do not use the proper type of syringe? Children have swallowed or choked on the caps of hypodermic syringes when these syringes were used to give liquid medicines by mouth.

Important safety information was released recently by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding Pradaxa (dabigatran), a drug used to prevent blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation, a type of abnormal heart rhythm. The consumer alert notified patients who are taking this drug to be aware of its special storage and handling needs.

There are a few pills that you can take only once or twice a week, which is quite a convenience compared to most medicines. But harmful mistakes may happen because your doctor and your pharmacist are mostly used to medicines that are taken daily, not weekly. They’ve occasionally been known to accidentally write or type “daily” instead of “weekly.” If you take weekly pills every day by accident, you could be harmed. Sadly, some people have even died.

Medication Safety Alerts

FDA Safety Alerts

Show Your Support!

ISMP needs your help to continue our life saving work