Medication Safety Articles

 

A woman packing for vacation put a week's supply of her various medicines in an empty prescription bottle. When she returned home, she then stored the last few doses of her father's medicine in the empty prescription bottle so she could take his current bottle to the pharmacy for a refill.

Most health plans offer mail-order prescriptions. Follow these steps to ensure that your prescriptions are filled correctly and delivered safely.

The story: A pain relief system known as patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) allows a patient to take pain medication without having to call a nurse. It's used most often in the hospital. The concept is simple: A pump containing pain medication is attached to your intravenous line (the tube that goes into your vein).

A young woman developed temporary nerve damage 4 weeks after taking 500 mg of St. John's wort daily for mild depression. She began to feel pain on skin exposed to the sun. Her doctor told her to stop taking the herb. She did, and her symptoms slowly went away.

A kindergartner was taken to the hospital on the first day of school after a teacher's aide accidentally gave him another child's medication. The 5-year-old boy became drowsy after he was given Catapres (clonidine), a blood pressure medication sometimes used to treat children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

It's been 30 years since the American Academy of Pediatrics pointed out that using a household spoon to give liquid medication is inaccurate. Studies indicate, however, that 3 out of 4 Americans still rely on teaspoons in their kitchen drawers to measure medicine doses.

The story: If you receive a medication leaflet with your prescription, do you read it? Recent studies show that 3 out of 4 people throw the medication leaflet away without ever glancing at it! But reading the leaflet can help you avoid a serious mistake. Here's just one story:

Consumers who use dietary supplements such as vitamins have no way of knowing if the products they select meet certain quality manufacturing standards. They also have no way of knowing if they are dealing with reputable manufacturers. In response, a drug standards organization called the US Pharmacopeia (USP) established The Dietary Supplement Verification Program (DSVP).

Plants are a common cause of poisoning. Both indoor and outdoor plants can be poisonous. Some plants can cause a skin rash, others can cause an upset stomach if ingested and still others can cause more serious problems by harming your heart, kidneys or other organs. Below is a partial list of indoor and outdoor plants that are considered poisonous.

Are you taking charge of your medicines? If not, you can be putting your health at risk. Proper medication administration is a three tier effort that includes your physician, your pharmacist and yourself. Knowing about the drugs you take today can save you a lot of grief tomorrow.

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