Medication Safety Articles

 

 

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.

Many medicines come in different strengths. For example, a medicine may come in both a 10 mg and a 20 mg tablet. Surprisingly, the higher dose often costs about the same as the lower dose. If the medicine is too expensive for some people, doctors may prescribe the higher dose and direct them to take half a tablet for each dose. However, splitting tablets may be risky for several reasons.

A man was awakened by a toothache in the middle of the night. Without turning on the lights, he pulled out and applied what he thought was a spray of pain reliever for his toothache. Afterwards, he did not rinse his mouth. In the daylight of the morning, he realized he had actually used Lamisil AT Pump Spray in his mouth.

You may have noticed that some familiar cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine are now kept behind the pharmacy counter. Pseudoephedrine ("soo-doe-eh-fed-reen") is a common ingredient in cold medicines such as Sudafed, Wal-Phed, CVS Nasal Decongestant, and others. This medicine is a decongestant. It shrinks the blood vessels in your nose which makes it easier to breathe.

Warfarin (Coumadin) is a medicine that quite a few people take to prevent blood clots. Taking too much of it can cause unintentional bleeding. However, even taking the right dose can lead to bleeding problems if you also take certain antibiotics to treat an infection. Some antibiotics can cause higher levels of warfarin in the body.

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