Medication Safety Articles

 

Patients sometimes ask to take home left over medicines that were partially used during their hospital stay (e.g., insulin pens, inhalers, eye drops, topical creams or ointments). An example of this involved a diabetic man who was taking the long-acting insulin Lantus (insulin glargine) and also received the short-acting insulin NovoLog (insulin aspart) during his hospitalization.

People who experience seizure activity (epilepsy) often take anti-seizure medicine to control the condition. However, sometimes additional medicine may be needed to control bouts of increased seizure activity (cluster seizures or breakthrough seizures). The Diastat AcuDial rectal administration system contains the medicine diazepam, rectal gel, to manage these breakthrough seizures. The product is available in a 10 mg rectal syringe designed to deliver a minimum dose of 5 mg, or a 20 mg rectal syringe designed to deliver a minimum dose of 12.5 mg. Both syringes allow for the dose to be increased by 2.5 mg up to a maximum of either 10 mg or 20 mg, respectively. (There is a 2.5 mg syringe for pediatrics.)

Giving a correctly filled prescription to the wrong customer is a common error in community pharmacies. If this has never happened to you, maybe you're surprised by this fact. But you are more likely to be among the millions of people who have gone home from the pharmacy only to find they have someone else's medicine inside the pharmacy bag.

Do you use an inhaler? If so, always replace its cap after use. The importance of replacing caps on inhalers was recently illustrated when a woman accidentally inhaled a small earring while using her asthma medicine. She got her uncapped inhaler from her purse. As she inhaled the medicine, she felt a painful scratch in her throat and started coughing blood. She was taken to the emergency department, where the earring was removed from her lung. If the inhaler's cap had been in place, the loose earring in her purse would not have gotten into the inhaler.

When people suddenly become ill or injured at home or in the community, they or their families or friends can call 911 for emergency help. But who can a patient or family member call upon once they arrive at the hospital if they feel their condition is seriously deteriorating and nobody is listening? Many hospitals today are offering patients and families an opportunity to summon an interdisciplinary care team to the bedside if they have unaddressed concerns. These teams are called Rapid Response Teams (RRTs).

Most people are familiar with throat lozenges. Typically, they are a small, medicated, round or oval shaped and dissolve slowly in your mouth. They are used to treat sore throats, coughs, and other throat irritations. Common lozenges include brand name products such as Chloraseptic, Delsym and Vicks (figure 1) and can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC).

Those who take Pradaxa (dabigatran) capsules may not know they should be swallowed whole. The capsules should never be broken, chewed, or opened to take the medicine. Studies have shown that the medicine absorbs too fast if the capsules are opened, chewed, or broken. This can cause serious bleeding.

Allergy season is here again. Pollen, ragweed, pet dander, and dust mites can trigger allergies. Your body produces histamines when it comes in contact with these triggers. Histamines can cause a number of reactions including, a stuffy nose, your nose and eyes to run, itchy eyes, and an itchy rash or hives.

Before leaving the hospital, a woman with bone cancer was given a prescription for a powerful pain medicine, a fentanyl (Duragesic) patch. During her first 2 weeks at home, she was doing well. The medicine was helping to relieve her back pain. But then her family noticed that she seemed confused and was losing her balance. She was also nauseated and had vomited.

Recently a woman notified our organization after realizing her doctor prescribed the incorrect dose for an antimalarial medicine. The woman, who was soon going to travel to a part of the world where malaria is present, discussed with her doctor about taking medicine to prevent malaria. Having taken antimalarial medicine in the past, the woman asked her doctor to prescribe chloroquine (the same medication she has taken many years ago).

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