Taking Medications at Home

 

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.

Your pharmacy may provide you with some prescription medicines still in their original boxes. These include ointments and creams, asthma inhalers, certain eye and ear drops, and even pills. Your pharmacist may then place a label with directions for taking or using this medicine on the outside box, not on the medicine container inside.

Many people with type 2 diabetes take more than one insulin product--a long-acting insulin and a short-acting insulin. These people should not store their insulin vials inside the original cardboard boxes after the products have been opened. If the vials are accidentally returned to the wrong box after being used, the wrong type of insulin may be taken. This could lead to a serious medical emergency.

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.

If you take Coumadin (warfarin) to prevent blood clots, you probably know that you need periodic blood tests to make sure the dose of your medicine is correct. After your doctor reviews the results of these tests, he may ask you to take more or less of the medicine. Sometimes your doctor may even tell you to stop taking the medicine for a few days, or until your next blood test.

Who would ever make that mistake? Well, people do. A father told the babysitter to put his son's ear drops in his right ear before bed, and the careful babysitter did just that. She found ear drops labeled "put two drops in right ear" in the medicine cabinet, and instilled the ear drops into the child's right ear. But the family's dog also had a bottle of ear drops, which were the drops the babysitter used. The son's ear drops were in the refrigerator. Luckily, the child was not harmed by the dog's ear drops.

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.

Most people recognize that accidental poisonings in children are a daily occurrence in the US. But you may be surprised to learn one common source of these poisonings: grandparents’ medications! A scientific study conducted at the Long Island Poison Center1 found that about two of every 10 medicine poisonings in children involved grandparents’ medications. Most of these poisonings, caused by what the study participants called the “Granny Syndrome,” involved grandparents’ medicines that had been left on a table or countertop, on low shelves, or in grandmothers’ purses.

A recent news report about a woman who accidentally glued one of her eyes shut when she mistook Super Glue (cyanoacrylate adhesive) for her eye drops is a reminder that the potential for this mix-up is real. The Associated Press reported that a woman who had cataract surgery a year ago was reaching for what she thought was one of her half-dozen eye medications but picked up a nearby super glue container in error. A burning sensation immediately indicated that something was seriously wrong, so she went to the hospital where doctors worked on getting her eye open.

Many of us have hectic schedules and we sometimes struggle to get a good night’s rest. In fact, it is estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from chronic insomnia (sleeplessness) and an additional 20 million experience episodic insomnia. During these times, we commonly turn to sleep medicines.

Medication Safety Alerts

FDA Safety Alerts

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