More and more people rely upon the daily use of prescription medications. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is estimated that in the United States alone, almost half of all people are taking at least one prescription medication while 1 in 6 people are taking three or more medications (Source: CDC 2004 Press Release).
There is no question that when used and dispensed properly, prescription drugs do improve health and save lives. However, the unfortunate fact remains that along with the good prescription drugs provide, there is always the risk of a medication error occurring when the drug is dispensed and taken. In fact, medication errors occur all too frequently, sometimes with deadly results.
Medication safety begins with you. Here are some steps you can follow to help your family avoid medication errors:
- Always make sure your doctor’s office and your pharmacy know all of the prescription medications, herbal supplements, vitamins and over-the-counter medications your family member is taking and any known allergies they may have. This can help prevent dangerous drug interactions, allergic reactions, or overdoses. Keep a current list of all the medications your family members take and make sure you update it when something changes. This medication list should include information such as the name of medication taken, the strength, form (pill, liquid, etc.), how often taken, and when the medication was started.
- Have all your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. Pharmacies have computer programs that can check for harmful drug interactions between different medicines being taken at the same time as well as possible allergic reactions. However, in order for this to work, the pharmacy needs to know all medications, vitamins, and supplements you or your family members are taking as well as any known allergies. Having all your prescriptions filled at one pharmacy also allows your medical providers to access all your medication information from one source. This can save valuable time and confusion.