Medication Safety Articles

 

Combining certain medicines for migraine headaches with certain types of antidepressants may result in a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome.

The National Center for Education Statistics found that most adults need help to understand information about their health and medicines. This has nothing to do with a person's ability to read or write. In fact, people who don't understand health information are often highly intelligent and skilled in other areas that might be difficult for medical people to understand. It's just that health information is often explained and written in a way that is different from how non-medical people talk and think.

Many parents specifically ask their child's doctor for a prescription for an antibiotic when their child has a cold or sore throat. In fact, almost 75% of children's antibiotic prescriptions are related to these conditions. However, most of these infections are caused by viruses that do NOT get better with antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.

An elderly woman developed diarrhea after taking antibiotics for an infection. Her doctor suggested eating yogurt, but she didn't like the taste. Her doctor then gave her a prescription for Lactinex (Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. bulgaricus). He told her to get this at a health food store. Lactinex is a harmless dried bacteria used to replace bad bacteria in the digestive tract that cause diarrhea.

 

When you take a prescription to the pharmacy, you may have to wait for a period of time until it is ready. You are probably anxious to get home and may not realize just what your pharmacist is doing for you during that time. Here's a look at what your pharmacist typically does to make sure the medicine is safe and right for you.

Hello, my name is... When you are admitted to a hospital or seen at a clinic, you are usually given an identification (ID) bracelet to wear. This bracelet lists your name, your birth date, and usually at least one other number. Some hospitals use other bracelets to signal important information like allergies. Nurses must check these bracelets before giving you any medicine to confirm you are the right patient and to make sure you are not allergic to the medicine. But what if your bracelets are hidden?

The chickenpox (varicella) vaccine has helped save many lives. However, it should NEVER be given to pregnant women. The chickenpox vaccine is called Varivax. Varivax contains a small amount of the actual chickenpox virus. Exposure to naturally occurring chickenpox virus during early pregnancy can cause birth defects in the baby and make the mother very sick.

Some medicines come as a nasal spray. While a spray in each nostril is the typical way to take a single dose, there are some exceptions. Some medicines are meant to be given as a single spray into one nostril for each dose. One prime example is calcitonin salmon (Fortical or Micalcin), a medicine used to treat women with osteoporosis (bone thinning) after menopause.

If you have young children or grandchildren, you are probably used to being on the lookout for danger in your home and the child's play areas. But a doctor's office or clinic might be an unrecognized source of danger, as one mother learned.

Two years ago, a Florida judge ruled that parents have a duty to read the drug information sheets that are given out with prescriptions for their children. The ruling was in response to a case involving a 3-month-old infant with an infection in her mouth (thrush). The baby's doctor had prescribed liquid nystatin to treat the infection. By mistake, the pharmacy dispensed a cold medicine containing a decongestant and an antihistamine.

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