Medication Safety Articles


When a middle-aged man arrived at a pharmacy to pick up a refill for lactulose (a common laxative), he was told that he needed a new prescription from his doctor. There were no refills left on his previous prescription. The pharmacist suggested that the man could use KARO corn syrup as a substitute for lactulose until he visited his doctor for his next check-up.

A mother picked up a refill for her child for Strattera (atomoxetine), a drug used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The capsules were a different color than with previous refills. Even though the prescription bottle said Strattera 60 mg, the mother called the pharmacy to check.

A child's mother brought a prescription for Reglan (metoclopramide) syrup to the pharmacy. When the prescription was ready, the pharmacist showed the mother how to measure the medicine dose with an oral syringe. The mother then realized that she had not been measuring her child's dose correctly for another medicine, Zantac (ranitidine) syrup. This prescription had been filled at a different pharmacy.

If you are scheduled in advance for surgery or a procedure, you will need to go to the hospital for a pre-admission testing appointment. You might need blood tests, a physical exam, and instructions about what to do before the procedure. This is a great time to go over your current list of medicines with the nurse or doctor.

Medicines labeled otic are for ears, not eyes. If you accidentally put ear drops into your eyes, you will quickly know that something is very wrong. Your eyes will burn and sting right away, and later you might notice redness, swelling, and blurred vision. In most cases, the injury to the eyes is temporary, but visual changes are always a real possibility if something irritating gets in the eyes.

Combining certain medicines for migraine headaches with certain types of antidepressants may result in a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome.

The National Center for Education Statistics found that most adults need help to understand information about their health and medicines. This has nothing to do with a person's ability to read or write. In fact, people who don't understand health information are often highly intelligent and skilled in other areas that might be difficult for medical people to understand. It's just that health information is often explained and written in a way that is different from how non-medical people talk and think.

Many parents specifically ask their child's doctor for a prescription for an antibiotic when their child has a cold or sore throat. In fact, almost 75% of children's antibiotic prescriptions are related to these conditions. However, most of these infections are caused by viruses that do NOT get better with antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.

An elderly woman developed diarrhea after taking antibiotics for an infection. Her doctor suggested eating yogurt, but she didn't like the taste. Her doctor then gave her a prescription for Lactinex (Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. bulgaricus). He told her to get this at a health food store. Lactinex is a harmless dried bacteria used to replace bad bacteria in the digestive tract that cause diarrhea.


When you take a prescription to the pharmacy, you may have to wait for a period of time until it is ready. You are probably anxious to get home and may not realize just what your pharmacist is doing for you during that time. Here's a look at what your pharmacist typically does to make sure the medicine is safe and right for you.

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