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Do You Practice Safe Rx?: It's "Talk about Prescriptions Month"

Prescription medicines have been a lifesaver for many people, people with type 1 diabetes (and some with type 2 diabetes too) can't live without insulin, lithium has transformed the treatment of certain mental illnesses, and warfarin has blood clots running for cover. As the aging population grows, there will likely be more people popping pills and slugging syrups in the years to come.

For the most part, the 82% of the population who takes at least one prescription, over-the-counter or dietary supplement (30% take five or more)* will take them without incident.

Or will they?

In a recent two-year study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association* about 700,000 people taking medications in the comfort of their own home, ended up finding their way through the doors of an emergency room. Adverse drug events (ADE) as they are called can be anything from allergic reactions, unintentional overdoses, and other reactions. And its not just the new kids on the pharmacists' shelf.

"Sixteen of the 18 drugs that most commonly caused ADEs have been in clinical use for more than 20 years," the authors write.

The National Council on Patient Information and Education, the sponsors of “Talk About Prescriptions” Month, wants people taking prescriptions to practice safe, appropriate use of these medicines.

So if you, or someone you are caring for, are taking medications, here are some tips for mindful medication use:

  • Make a list of all prescription, over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements you are taking and their dosages (that means everything)
  • Notify every healthcare provider and pharmacist of all your current medications
  • When receiving a new medication, ask questions about what the drug is used for, how and when to take it, and for how long, and what to do if you miss a dose
  • Ask about possible side effects and what foods, drinks, other medicines or activities to avoid while taking it
  • Try to fill your prescriptions at the same pharmacy if possible so they know all the meds you are taking and can flag any problems
  • Check the prescriptions' name and dose against the label on the bottle and review use and potential side effects with the pharmacist
  • Ask for written information about the medication
  • Make a pledge to yourself to talk about your prescriptions even when time is limitied

TAGS: Prescription Medication, Adverse Drug Event, Medication, Allergic Reactions, Prescriptions, Healthline, Drugs

* Large Number of Adverse Drug Events Occur Outside the Hospital and Lead To Emergency Department Visits; Budnitz et.al.; JAMA; 2006; 296:1858-1866.

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