6 tips to help you avoid medication errors

It’s great to live in an era when there are so many medicines that can help us live healthier and longer. However, taking those medications the wrong way can be dangerous—or even deadly. That’s why it is so important to learn about the medications you take, including possible side effects. Also, never hesitate to ask questions or share concerns with your doctors or pharmacist.

The National Institute on Aging offers important tips to help you take medication safely and avoid errors:

  1. Make a list. Write down each medicine you take, amount taken, and times you take it. Include over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements. If it’s a prescription, note the doctor who prescribed it and reason it was prescribed. Show this list to all of your healthcare providers, including physical therapists and dentists. Keep one copy in a safe place at home and one in your wallet or pocketbook.
  2. Follow instructions. Don’t take a larger dose of a medicine thinking it will work better. This approach can be very dangerous, or even deadly. Don’t skip or take half doses of a prescription drug to save money. Also, do whatever it takes to make sure you take medication as prescribed and on time—set a timer, use a chart, or a weekly pillbox.
  3. Turn on a light. This might sound obvious, but never take medicine in the dark, as that’s a sure way to make a mistake.
  4. Report problems. Call your doctor right away if you have any trouble with your prescription or over-the-counter medicine, or if you’re worried that it might be doing more harm than good. There may be something else you can take.
  5. Check before stopping. Take prescription medicine until it’s finished or until your doctor says it’s OK to stop. (Note that some medicines are supposed to be taken only “as needed.”)
  6. Don’t share. This goes without saying, but it’s worth repeating: Never take medicine prescribed for another person or give yours to someone else.

The Mayo Clinic also offers these cautions in regard to taking medication:

  • Never chew a non-chewable medication. Some medications should never be chewed, cut, or crushed. Doing so may change how the body absorbs them.
  • Follow strict guidelines for cutting pills. Never split pills unless your doctor or pharmacist has told you it’s safe to do so. Some medications shouldn’t be cut because they’re specially coated to be long acting or to protect the stomach.
  • Don’t use a household spoon to measure dosage. To get an accurate dose, use an oral syringe (available at pharmacies) or the dose cup that came with the medication.

Help is always available here in Arizona. If you have any question at all about a drug, call the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at 1 (800) 222-1222, available 24 hours every day. Specially trained pharmacists are always there to help make sure you are taking medications safely. To learn more about how Sierra Winds can best serve your health needs, get in touch with us or call (623) 972-0212.