Wayne Adult Community Center
Feature article from the May, 2004 Cyberspace News


Beware Of Medication Errors
It goes without saying that medications are powerful substances that should be taken with caution. Now comes word from the Institute For Safe Medication Practices that one in 20 prescription drugs filled at a pharmacy has an error. And a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 25% of 661 patients who responded to a survey had an unfavorable reaction to medication.

Yes, some doctors and pharmacists are at fault, but so are many consumers. In fact, if consumers would just take a few minutes to double-check basic information, they could reduce the chances of error. So what can you do?

• Know what medicines you're taking and why you're taking them. And know the proper dose. This way, if your doctor says it's a 50 milligram pill and you pick up a bottle of 200 milligram pills, you can point out the discrepancy.

• Pay attention to the name of the drug you're supposed to be taking. Confusion over drugs with similar sounding or similarly spelled names has resulted in dangerous problems.

Know if you're allergic to certain drugs and which ones. Mention any unexpected problems with medications to your doctor and pharmacist.

• Remember to tell the doctor and pharmacist about any other medications you're on, to prevent drug interactions. Also tell them about any herbal supplements you may be taking.

• Carry an index card listing all of your medicines and the dose of each. Log onto www.drugdigest.org to make your own personal medication card.

• Many pharmacies distribute patient information sheets in lieu of the packet insert from the manufacturer because often the packet insert is in highly technical language. Since it's the original package insert that has been approved by the US Food & Drug Administration, ask for the original package insert. Pay close attention to approved uses, contraindications (situations in which the medicine should not be used), drug interactions, and dose (to see if your dose is within the acceptable range depending on your weight and problem).

• Lastly, go over all of your medications and their doses with your doctor every three to six months.

Special thanks to George Morris for bringing this article from www.drugdigest.com to our attention.