Your Practice Transformation Companion

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Spotlight on Medication Safety

PTI is casting a spotlight this month on the growing problem of medication safety in our homes and communities. Not only the use and abuse of prescription drugs, but the over-the-counter medications that can cause harm if not taken correctly.

Medication responsibility – a partnership with your health care provider

  • Make sure that all of your health care providers are aware of the medications you are taking. This includes over-the-counter medications, herbal/nutritional supplements, medicinal lotions/creams, eye drops and vitamins. Some of the items that we may assume don’t matter do matter when mixed with prescription drugs.
  • Discuss the need for the medication with your health care provider. Why are you taking it? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s important that you understand why you are taking a medication. Remember that your health care provider is there to help you.
  • If you’re not taking your prescribed medications, be honest. Why are you not taking them? Is there more than one choice available if there are issues such as cost, schedule, side effects or ease of taking? Health care providers expect us to take the medication they have prescribed. They can’t take care of our health problem if we don’t work together.
  • Keep a medication list with you at all times. Update it when something changes. Review it with your health care provider or pharmacist. Make sure all of your providers are aware of what you take when you have an appointment.
  • Always use the same pharmacy to reduce the chance of drug interactions. Pharmacist knowledge along with the added alerts that pop-up on pharmacy computer programs can decrease adverse events.
  • Use all medications as prescribed. Don’t cut them in half, share pills with friends or relatives, or take medications that haven’t been prescribed for you.

Minding your medications

  • This is an extension of the last bullet above. The medication has been prescribed for you and you are the only one who should be taking it.
  • The abuse of medication by high school and college students to get high or change their mood continues to be a national concern. Hopefully we all remember what it was like to be young and faced with the multiple stressors of schoolwork, sports, jobs, friends and our home life. Young people also have the additional stressor of social media that many of us didn’t have while growing up.
  • What can you do to protect your family, loved ones and friends?  Become knowledgeable about the medications that are abused and keep those out of public places in your home. Bathroom medicine cabinets and kitchen cabinets are prime examples of public places in the home. We’ve all seen the scary commercials. Don’t provide the temptation for disaster.

Using sensibility with over-the-counter pain relievers

  • Many over-the-counter and prescription medications contain acetaminophen or NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium or aspirin.)
  • These can include pain pills, cough/cold/allergy medications and sleep aids.
  • There are maximum daily limits for acetaminophen and NSAIDS. Each work differently in your body.

-Taking too much acetaminophen can harm your liver, sometimes with deadly consequences.
-Taking too many NSAIDs can increase your chance of stomach bleeding.
-If you take aspirin for heart attack or stroke prevention, ibuprofen may decrease the heart benefit the aspirin was supposed to provide.
  • Not all pain relievers are appropriate for everyone due to medical history, age, current medication use and allergies.
  • More than 500 medications contain acetaminophen such as Tylenol, NyQuil, DayQuil, Mucinex, and other prescription medication such as Norco and Percocet.
  • More than 900 medications contain an NSAID such as Motrin, Advil, Midol and other prescription medication such Vicoprofen and Combunox.

Learn the facts about safe use
-Directions were meant to be followed.
-Don’t take more than the recommended dose.

With October being “Talk About Your Medicines” month, the importance of taking this first step cannot be emphasized enough. Check out the National Council on Patient Information and Education website. This coalition has been working for years to advance the safe and appropriate use of medications.

Be medication smart!