Medication Safety Articles

 

If you keep an EpiPen Jr (epinephrine) auto-injector on hand in case a child has a severe allergic reaction, you need to know about the risk of cutting a child while the needle is under the skin if he or she moves during the injection. An EpiPen Jr auto-injector is a disposable automatic injection device filled with 1 dose of epinephrine. When the orange tip is pressed against a child's outer thigh until it "clicks" and then held there for 10 seconds, the dose is automatically delivered. Prompt treatment of severe allergic reactions in the home and community can be lifesaving and has resulted in better survival rates and less long-term effects. Most often, auto-injectors are used successfully without complications. But two children recently sustained cuts on their legs when using the EpiPen Jr.

Certain pharmacies, known as compounding pharmacies, can mix different ingredients together to produce a patient-specific product. Popular compounded products include pain creams and ointments that contain a combination of multiple potent medications. Many include drugs that can cause central nervous system depression or cardiac effects that result in slow breathing, a low heart rate or irregular beat, and drowsiness or a loss of consciousness. These drugs may include:

The teenage years can be very awkward for young boys and girls. They may feel uncomfortable because their bodies are developing slower than some of the others kids their age. Or, they may be involved in sports and feel they need to increase their muscle mass or athletic performance. For these reasons, some teenagers resort to trying steroids, drugs that mimic the actions of the male sex hormone testosterone. Steroids promote cell growth, especially in the muscles. However, steroids also have very serious adverse effects that may cause permanent organ damage.

A woman was receiving insulin from a Medtronic MiniMed Revel portable infusion pump. She began experiencing very low blood sugar (glucose) levels according to her blood testing kit. She reviewed the history of insulin doses on her insulin pump which saves information about extra doses that are given. In this case, the pump showed that the woman was getting extra doses of insulin during the night. She denied giving herself extra insulin at night. So, it was suspected that the woman had rolled over onto the pump while sleeping, putting enough pressure on the pump to release a dose.

Anyone who takes care of children knows that they have to make their home safe. Whether it's putting up a gate to keep an adventurous child from falling, or covering electrical outlets to keep a curious child away from danger, a safe home is job one. The risk of child poisonings with medicines in the home, however, may not be considered and addressed.1

When it comes to medicines, you may already know how essential it is to exactly follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider or directions on over-the-counter (OTC) Drug Facts labels. But you may be overlooking some habits or beliefs that can keep you from getting the full benefit of your medicines or cause you to risk your health and safety. See if any of these common medicine missteps apply to you.

In April, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first home-use naloxone auto-injector, Evzio (Figure 1), for people who accidentally overdose on an opioid (narcotic). The lifesaving auto-injector allows you or a family member to quickly inject the medicine to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose until emergency medical assistance is available. The medicine can be given to an adult or a child.

Many people are familiar with over-the-counter wart treatments. They're typically liquid based or are packaged in an aerosol container with a special application tip. But did you know there is also a wart remover that uses a dry formulation in the form of a stick? Within the last year a company called Balassa Laboratories has repackaged an old formula of a solid stick wart remover (previously packaged under the name PediFix). The newly packaged product, called WartSTICK, is now available at popular chain drugstores such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens on-line. Our concern? It looks identical to a container of lip balm. The active ingredient in WartSTICK is salicylic acid, which should NEVER come in contact with the lips or mucous membranes inside your mouth.

Many breastfeeding mothers who return to work utilize daycare providers to care for their breastfed babies. Those who want to exclusively breastfeed their babies will need to plan for the transition ahead. In some circumstances the mother can come into the daycare facility to breastfeed at arranged times. But many mothers do not have this option and will need to provide pumped breast milk to the daycare facility to feed the baby.

We recently heard from staff in an Emergency Department who called the fire department and Bomb Squad after hearing an unknown ticking sound from something inside their sharps container. Unbeknownst to them the source of the ticking sound was an Auvi-Q device (EPINEPHrine injection). AUVI-Q auto-injector is a device which uses digital voice instructions to "talk" people through the injection process. Once the injection iscomplete the user must replace the safety guard and the outer case. If the outer case is not replaced, the electronic voice speaker makes a "ticking" sound as the battery drains. If you or your child has the Auvi-Q device beware that the outer case needs to be replaced or the device will emit a ticking sound as the battery dies. We have notified the manufacturer about this ticking sound. An unknown ticking sound could be particularly alarming in settings such as hospitals, schools, and public transportation areas (buses, rails and airways).

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