According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional prescription drug overdoses have risen steadily since the 1970’s. This statistic magnifies the importance of proper medication use education.
Many patients just take a medication and never ask their doctor or pharmacist questions about adverse drug or substance interactions or side effects. Even fewer patients read the medication information given to them by their pharmacy when they pick up their prescription.
For your health and safety, it is very important to be mindful about what medications you are taking and how you are taking them. Listed below are ten medication safety tips:
- Before leaving the doctor’s office, read the prescription and make sure you understand what you are taking, why you are taking it and how you should take it. Also, make sure that you tell your doctor what medications, vitamins and supplements you take on a regular basis. This will ensure that the prescription you are given won’t negatively interact with these substances. Ensure that your doctor is correctly aware of any drug allergies, as well.
- Use the same pharmacy, if possible. This will allow your pharmacist to keep up with what prescriptions you are taking, decreasing your chances of adverse drug interactions and accidental overdose.
- Make sure you ask you pharmacist if there are any foods you should avoid while taking a medication. Also ask the best time of day to take the medication, as some medications can cause drowsiness.
- If your doctor prescribes you a brand name drug and your pharmacist gives you a generic, notify your doctor of this change. Most of the time, it is not an issue, but you’ll want to make sure, just in case. A lot of doctors will write “do not give generic” on the prescription if it is necessary.
- Read the medication information that is provided by your pharmacist. This information contains a list of possible side effects and will help you better recognize adverse effects. It also tells you what foods to avoid and the best time to take the medication.
- If you have trouble remembering when to take your medication, purchase a pill holder that organizes your medications into their proper days and times. Keep all the bottles so you will know how to take the drug.
- Keep you medications away from children by placing them in areas that are difficult for young children to reach. Make sure the pharmacy gives you child-safe lids.
- If you and your spouse both take many medications, keep them in separate areas to avoid confusion.
- Never use a medication that was not prescribed to you; you could be allergic to it or it could react negatively with something you are currently taking.
- Throw away prescribed medication by their expiration date.
For more information on drug use safety, click here.
Jean Packer is writer and editor for Masters in Health Informatic. In her spare time, she enjoys writing guest articles on several topics of interest, including personal health care and fitness.