Medication Safety Articles

 

The story: Methotrexate is a cancer medicine. More recently, doctors have used it to treat other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. It works well for these other conditions if you take the medicine just once or twice a week, and in smaller doses. But if you take it every day by accident, you could be harmed. Sadly, some people have even died.

Let your doctor, nurse, and X-ray technician know if you have an allergy to shellfish or iodine before you have an X-ray procedure that requires an injection of dye (contrast solution). This dye is sometimes used to make things more visible during procedures like a cardiac catheterization, a computed tomography (CT) scan, or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Are you using eye drops to help relieve your sore eyes? If you overuse eye drops that contain decongestants (ingredients that shrink swollen blood vessels) such as naphazoline, tetrahydrozoline, or phenylephrine, it could lead to conjunctivitis--swollen, red, sore eyes with a liquid discharge. It could take weeks for this condition to clear up. Use your eye drops as directed on the label, or your red eyes may actually worsen.

Out of the corner of your eye, you catch your toddler drinking from his older broter's bottle of liquid medicine. You quickly call the National Poison Control Hotline.* But when they ask you how much your child took, you frantically realize that you don't really know.

A woman packing for vacation put a week's supply of her various medicines in an empty prescription bottle. When she returned home, she then stored the last few doses of her father's medicine in the empty prescription bottle so she could take his current bottle to the pharmacy for a refill.

Most health plans offer mail-order prescriptions. Follow these steps to ensure that your prescriptions are filled correctly and delivered safely.

The story: A pain relief system known as patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) allows a patient to take pain medication without having to call a nurse. It's used most often in the hospital. The concept is simple: A pump containing pain medication is attached to your intravenous line (the tube that goes into your vein).

A young woman developed temporary nerve damage 4 weeks after taking 500 mg of St. John's wort daily for mild depression. She began to feel pain on skin exposed to the sun. Her doctor told her to stop taking the herb. She did, and her symptoms slowly went away.

A kindergartner was taken to the hospital on the first day of school after a teacher's aide accidentally gave him another child's medication. The 5-year-old boy became drowsy after he was given Catapres (clonidine), a blood pressure medication sometimes used to treat children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

It's been 30 years since the American Academy of Pediatrics pointed out that using a household spoon to give liquid medication is inaccurate. Studies indicate, however, that 3 out of 4 Americans still rely on teaspoons in their kitchen drawers to measure medicine doses.

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