Open Accessibility Menu

Medication Safety is a Must

  • Category: General Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Matt Gougler
Medication Safety is a Must

Medications are meant to help, not harm us. However, serious complications — even death — can result if medications aren't taken properly, or if taken with another medication that triggers an adverse reaction. In fact, studies have shown that adverse drug reactions are responsible for between 1.5 to 2.7 million hospitalizations annually. Seniors are particularly vulnerable. Not only do they take more medication than any other age group, but it's estimated that adverse drug reactions cause between 10% and 30% of all hospital admissions among older patients.

National Check Your Meds Day, which is Oct. 21, was created to encourage consumers to bring their prescription medications and supplements to their local pharmacy for review. To help increase awareness about the importance of safety in relation to medications, ATRIO Health Plans is sharing these suggestions:

  • Make a list. Write down the names of all medications — both prescription and over the counter (OTC) — as well as vitamins, dietary supplements or herbal remedies, that you're currently taking. Be sure to additionally note dosage levels. Bring this list to all doctors' appointments. In case of an emergency, keep a copy of the list in your wallet; one also should be given to a family member or friend.
  • Talk before taking. Add OTC products to your medication schedule only after talking to your physician or pharmacist. Many OTC medications — including cold remedies, pain relievers, sleep aids, antacids, and even mineral supplements — can cause adverse reactions or interact negatively with prescription medications.
  • Don’t wait! Notify your doctor immediately of any adverse symptoms — stomach upset, diarrhea, difficulty urinating, constipation, forgetfulness, skin irritation, dizziness — that you experience, especially after starting any new medication.
  • Read carefully. Make sure you know each medication’s: purpose; dosage; recommended time to take; requirements relative to food; and preferred storage method. Also, be aware of potential side effects and what to do if they occur.
  • Use reminder systems. If you're taking multiple medications, use of a reminder system — such as a daily pillbox, calendar, or wall chart — is recommended.
  • Take only as needed. Some medications are designed to address specific symptoms and are only for short-term use; consequently, if symptoms persist, notify your health care provider promptly.
  • Tell all. Make sure that your primary care physician is aware of all medications that have been prescribed by other providers, such as specialists; similarly, inform all providers regarding medications prescribed by your primary care doctor.
  • Limit pharmacies. Try to fill as many prescriptions as possible at the same pharmacy or chain; limiting the number of pharmacies reduces the potential for prescription mishaps.
  • Make sure they know. If you're admitted to a hospital or nursing facility, or if you're receiving treatment in an emergency room, make sure that attending health professionals know your medical history and medication schedule. Also, request a full explanation, preferably in writing, of any change made to your medications.
  • Store safely. Store medications in a cool, dry spot free of humidity. If youngsters live in the home, place medications in a childproofed cabinet or drawer. Remove cotton from inside pill bottles; it can absorb moisture and adversely affect medication.