Medication Safety Articles

 

Who would ever make that mistake? Well, people do. A father told the babysitter to put his son's ear drops in his right ear before bed, and the careful babysitter did just that. She found ear drops labeled "put two drops in right ear" in the medicine cabinet, and instilled the ear drops into the child's right ear. But the family's dog also had a bottle of ear drops, which were the drops the babysitter used. The son's ear drops were in the refrigerator. Luckily, the child was not harmed by the dog's ear drops.

Vaccines are made in different strengths for children and adults. But sometimes, children get the adult's strength, and adults get the children's strength by mistake. For example, two children less than the age of 7 received Adacel (Tdap), an adolescent/adult-strength vaccine to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).

Consumers as well as some health professionals may not know that most medicine patches should never be cut before being applied to the skin. Patches are designed to give a constant amount of medicine over a certain period of time, which may range from several hours to a month. The medicine reaches your body by going through the blood vessels under your skin. If the patch is cut, the medicine in each half of the patch might be released too quickly, leading to a serious overdose.

People who take certain medicines for blood pressure or heart rhythm problems, have for years been told not to drink grapefruit juice. This is because the grapefruit juice seriously disrupts the normal rate at which those medicines get into the blood stream. That disruption can result in both over-dosing and under-dosing.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses material from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) to produce short videos on important medication safety topics. Stories about errors are brought to life monthly in video news clips called Patient Safety News.

A patient with a heart beat problem (in this case she had what is called atrial fibrillation - which is when the top part of the heart, called the atrium, beats too fast and irregularly) was admitted to a hospital and was supposed to get a heart medication called LOPRESSOR (metoprolol tartrate). However, the physician’s poor handwriting led hospital nurses and pharmacists to misread the prescription. Pharmacists dispensed, and nurses gave, LYRICA (pregabalin).

A patient was accidentally given another patient’s medications at a pharmacy. Later, when a pharmacist realized the mistake, he attempted to reach the patient by phone. However, the patient did not answer. The pharmacist kept trying but did not get through until later that evening. By that time, the patient had already taken another patient’s CELLCEPT (mycophenolate mofetil), a drug that lowers your immunity (it's used in transplant patients to prevent rejection), instead of her new prescription for ZESTRIL (lisinopril) to treat hypertension.

Many people with type 2 diabetes take more than one insulin product--a long-acting insulin and a short-acting insulin. These people should not store their insulin vials inside the original cardboard boxes after the products have been opened. If the vials are accidentally returned to the wrong box after being used, the wrong type of insulin may be taken. This could lead to a serious medical emergency.

Some people have been told they have an "allergy" to gluten. What this actually means is that their body can't tolerate foods with gluten. This intolerance, called Celiac disease, has been on the rise in recent years.

Receiving cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, can be a very frightening experience. It may feel as if you are placing your life completely in the hands of your doctors and nurses. In a very real sense you are, especially if you are unfamiliar with the medications you are receiving. To make you feel more secure, here are some safety tips that some of our nurses wrote for you.

Medication Safety Alerts

FDA Safety Alerts

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