Medication Safety Articles

 

Do you carefully read the label on your prescription bottle and look at the tablets before you take a dose of a new or refilled prescription medicine? Well, a 95-year-old woman did, and it helped to prevent a potentially serious mistake. Her doctor had recently increased the dose of her thyroid medicine. When she needed a refill, a staff person at her doctor's office mistakenly told the pharmacist to dispense the lower dose she had taken previously.

In a poison emergency, the first thing to do is not panic. Help is just a phone call away. The national Poison Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 is your best resource to find out what to do in a poison emergency. The Poison Hotline is staffed by nurses and pharmacists experienced in toxicology who are referred to as CSPIs (certified specialists in poison information).

Reports show that seniors are at an increased risk for poisoning. Some experts estimate that half of all seniors mismanage at least one of their medications and that seniors are twice as likely as other patients to present to the emergency room as a result of drug safety issues, such as, confusion over multiple medications, skipped doses, or variances from recommended doses.

A pharmacy technician in a chain retail pharmacy issued the wrong medicines to a patient. The pharmacy uses a bin system for prescriptions awaiting pick-up and the technician accidentally selected the prescription in the bin next to the correct one. The first name of the two patients was exactly the same.

There are some asthma medications that come as powder-filled capsules. The powder inside though is meant to be breathed into the lungs using a special device called an inhaler.

Fentanyl is a very powerful pain reliever. It is only supposed to be prescribed for people with long-term (chronic) pain who have already been taking high doses of prescription opioid (narcotic) pain medicine for at least a week. Serious harm or death has resulted when this drug was taken in high doses by people who have not been taking other prescription opioid pain medicine for 7 days or more.

You may have seen some advertisements for testosterone gel products that men can apply to the skin when they have documented low testosterone (male hormone) levels. Restored testosterone may lead to increases in sexual desire, mood and energy.

A nurse caring for a patient who was unable to swallow LOVAZA (omega-3-acid ethyl esters), punched holes in the large, soft gelatin capsule, squeezed the oily yellow liquid contents into a disposable foam plastic cup (often called a Styrofoam cup), and diluted it with cranberry juice. Later, as the patient raised the cup to drink the juice, the cup began to leak.

A consumer contacted us recently after visiting a hospitalized patient. While there, she had the opportunity to observe nurses administering medications. She told us that the nurses would bring a clear plastic cup with loose tablets and capsules into the room, hand the pills to the patient, and ask the patient to swallow them. The person who wrote to us noted that none of the pills were labeled. She wanted to know if this was the proper procedure, since it would be difficult to assure that these unlabeled medications were right for the patient.

Many consumers feel strongly about taking a daily multivitamin. They believe it is one way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, consumers must be cautious with multivitamins especially if they are on other medicines. Sometimes other ingredients such as herbals (i.e. Ginkgo biloba, ginseng) are added to multivitamins. These herbals may interact with other medicines you are taking.

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