Medication Safety Articles

 

If you are like most Americans, you are on a first name basis with your hairdresser, barber, maybe even your car mechanic or dry cleaner. But do you know the first name of your pharmacist? A study done by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) found that only 35% of consumers know their pharmacist's name.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is an independent agency that sets standards for US hospitals. The Joint Commission visits hospitals often to see if they are meeting these standards. This agency is especially concerned about your safety.

Kava is an herbal product that people claim reduces stress and calms you. Please be aware that kava has a risk of severe liver damage and should never be taken if you have liver problems. Even if you are healthy, there are some bad side effects that may occur if you take this product.

Some medicines come in patches that you attach to your skin. Examples include: NicoDerm CQ (nicotine), used to quit smoking; Climara (estradiol), used to treat symptoms of menopause; Duragesic (fentanyl), used to relieve serious, long-term pain.Patches are designed to give a constant amount of medicine over a certain period of time, usually several days. New patches contain lots of medicine, but used patches can still contain medicine after you take them off. Both new and used patches can be dangerous for children or pets.

An estrogen patch automatically releases the proper dose of medicine over a defined period of time, usually several days.However, women should know that sunbathing with a patch on may speed up how much medicine enters the body. For example, one woman experienced hot flashes after several days of suntanning while wearing Climara, a once-a-week estrogen (estradiol) patch.

A woman went to pick up her son's prescription for Metadate ER (methylphenidate, extended release), which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The pharmacist had a hard time reading the prescription. He thought the doctor had prescribed methadone. This medicine is used for drug withdrawal, and also to lessen cancer pain.

Some medical and dental procedures require people to remain still for a long time. This is almost impossible for young children. Medical procedures like certain X-rays, CT scans, or MRI tests can also be scary to children. To help, the doctor or dentist may prescribe a sedative for a child before the procedure.

When you visit someone in the hospital, you may be amazed to see how many tubes are connected to them. Sometimes one of these tubes becomes disconnected. But don't try to be helpful and reattach the tube. You could connect it to the wrong thing and cause serious harm.

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.

As each New Year begins, it's a great time to see if any of your medicines should be discarded because they are too old or no longer needed. On prescription bottles, the label will often tell you when the medicine should be discarded. On over-the-counter medicines and sample medicines, the expiration date (the date it should be discarded) is often printed on the label under "EXP," or stamped without ink into the bottom of a bottle, carton, or the crimp of a tube.

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