Medication Safety Articles

 

Have you ever heard that drinking grapefruit juice can interfere with certain medicines? This is true. But, do you know why and which medicines you shouldn't combine with grapefruit juice?

After using his albuterol inhaler, an asthmatic man began to cough uncontrollably. Instead of the medicine making it easier for him to breathe, he felt like something was stuck in his breathing passages. An X-ray at a clinic confirmed that there was a coin in his windpipe and a dime that had to be removed through a tube inserted down his throat.

All medicines have one generic name, and perhaps one or more brand names. For example, Advil and Motrin are brand names for the generic medicine ibuprofen. When you are taking medicine, it is important to know both the generic and the brand names. This information will prevent you from taking too much of the same medicine, which can lead to an overdose.

Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) is becoming an increasingly popular way for doctors to prescribe medicines for their patients. This method involves using a special computer program. Using a handheld device or computer terminal, the doctor selects the medicine he wants to prescribe for the patient.

One of the medication errors reported recently to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) through this website involved a patient who dropped off her doctor's prescription for Prilosec (omeprazole), a drug for acid reflux, at a local pharmacy. After she picked up the prescription and got home, she opened the bottle.

It should never happen, but it's not unheard of for another patient's medication to somehow slip into your bag before you pick it up at the pharmacy. Bagging errors can happen when more than one patient's medications are in the pharmacy work field at the same time, often during the prescription packaging process. Pharmacists are well aware of this and most pharmacies do require that staff work on only one patient's medications at a time. Nevertheless, since bags containing prescription medications are not routinely opened at the point-of-sale, if an error does happen it may not be captured before the patient leaves the pharmacy.

Inhalers are devices that contain medicines used to treat asthma and several other diseases that affect the lungs. By inhaling the medicine from the device, asthma sufferers and people with other lung diseases can breathe easier. It is important to learn how to properly use an inhaler and when to use it. This is especially true for people with asthma. Asthma is a breathing condition that affects both children and adults. Many people often need more than one medicine/inhaler to treat their asthma.

Sometimes health care consumers express concerns about the possibility of getting the wrong medication when they have a prescription filled at the pharmacy. Here's a tip that will vastly reduce that possibility:

People who have a severe life-threatening allergic reaction to bee stings, peanuts, shellfish, or other causes must get help immediately. A medicine called epinephrine (adrenaline) slows down allergic reactions and can prevent a reaction from getting worse. Doctors often recommend that patients (or parents of young children) carry epinephrine injection with them in a prefilled syringe or at least keep one close by. EpiPen or one of its generic equivalents is then prescribed.

A woman on vacation in another state got sick and a doctor prescribed an antibiotic, Biaxin (clarithromycin). She went to a pharmacy near where she was visiting to fill the prescription. Twelve days later, after returning home and finishing the antibiotic, she received a call from her mail-order pharmacy company.

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