Medication Safety Articles

 

Too close for comfort. A mother discovered that her infant daughter had been taking an allergy medicine instead of an antacid for a month. The baby's doctor had prescribed the antacid Zantac (ranitidine) syrup to help with spitting up and crying. When the mother called the pharmacy for a refill, she requested the same grape flavor of medicine that her daughter had been taking.

If you are like most Americans, you are on a first name basis with your hairdresser, barber, maybe even your car mechanic or dry cleaner. But do you know the first name of your pharmacist? A study done by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) found that only 35% of consumers know their pharmacist's name.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is an independent agency that sets standards for US hospitals. The Joint Commission visits hospitals often to see if they are meeting these standards. This agency is especially concerned about your safety.

Kava is an herbal product that people claim reduces stress and calms you. Please be aware that kava has a risk of severe liver damage and should never be taken if you have liver problems. Even if you are healthy, there are some bad side effects that may occur if you take this product.

Some medicines come in patches that you attach to your skin. Examples include: NicoDerm CQ (nicotine), used to quit smoking; Climara (estradiol), used to treat symptoms of menopause; Duragesic (fentanyl), used to relieve serious, long-term pain.Patches are designed to give a constant amount of medicine over a certain period of time, usually several days. New patches contain lots of medicine, but used patches can still contain medicine after you take them off. Both new and used patches can be dangerous for children or pets.

An estrogen patch automatically releases the proper dose of medicine over a defined period of time, usually several days.However, women should know that sunbathing with a patch on may speed up how much medicine enters the body. For example, one woman experienced hot flashes after several days of suntanning while wearing Climara, a once-a-week estrogen (estradiol) patch.

Liquid medicines given in amounts less than 1 milliliter (mL) can be confusing. If a decimal point is overlooked, it can result in a 10-fold overdose. In one case, a mother picked up a prescription for Reglan (metoclopramide) syrup for her baby. Reglan is a medicine for stomach acid reflux.

In 2005, FOX 9 news in Minneapolis reported a tragic story. A 15-month-old child died after drinking the contents of a bottle that contained her heart medicine, Tambocor (flecainide). Since birth, the child's parents had given her three doses each day to slow her racing heart. But in a matter of minutes, the child was able to open the prescription bottle and drink all the medicine. The overdose of what was once life-saving medicine killed her.

A woman went to pick up her son's prescription for Metadate ER (methylphenidate, extended release), which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The pharmacist had a hard time reading the prescription. He thought the doctor had prescribed methadone. This medicine is used for drug withdrawal, and also to lessen cancer pain.

Some medical and dental procedures require people to remain still for a long time. This is almost impossible for young children. Medical procedures like certain X-rays, CT scans, or MRI tests can also be scary to children. To help, the doctor or dentist may prescribe a sedative for a child before the procedure.

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