Public Health

Safe Medications Use

Medications help us live longer and healthier, but taking them or mixing certain medications and supplements incorrectly can be dangerous.

They are used to prevent or treat diseases and other health conditions. Some medicines are available both as  a prescription and over-the-counter. Prescription medicines are medicines that can only be obtained with a doctor's order (such as cholesterol-lowering pills). Medicines can be purchased over the counter, and called over-the-counter medicines (such as pain relievers or lubricating eye drops).

Dietary supplements:
They are not considered medications because they are not intended to prevent or treat diseases, but rather to maintain or improve health, and may help meet the daily needs of essential vitamins and minerals (such as calcium and vitamin D which help build strong bones).

Combining medications:
It may be dangerous to combine certain prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, or other treatments (such as: You should not take aspirin when taking warfarin to treat heart problems, to avoid potentially serious health problems), so you should talk to your doctor about all medications taken including medications prescribed by other doctors, any over-the-counter medications, vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies, even medications that are not used frequently.

When starting a new medicine:
Talk to your doctor before starting any new prescription, over-the-counter medication, or dietary supplement.
  • Discuss any allergies or problems experienced with other medications (such as: rash, difficulty breathing, indigestion, dizziness, or mood changes).
  • Ensure that the doctor and pharmacist are aware of an updated list of substances that cause allergies; to avoid an allergic reaction.
  • Find out if you will need to change or stop taking any other prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, or dietary supplements while using this new medicine.
  • Make sure to write the name of the medication, the dosage, and the reason for its prescription, noting any special instructions on how to take the medication.
  • Ensure that you are able to read and understand the name of the medication in addition to the directions on the medication.
  • Tell the pharmacist if you have difficulty swallowing pills, that there may be liquid medication available, and make sure to chew, break or crush the tablets without going back to the pharmacist and asking him if this will change the way the medication works.
  • Confirm with the pharmacist whether the medicine requires a special storage method (such as keeping it in the refrigerator).
  • Check the label on the medication before leaving the pharmacy, as it should have your name on it and the directions given by the doctor.
Tips for taking medications safely:
  • Follow instructions, read medication labels, and make sure not to take a dose larger than what is prescribed.
  • Take the medicine at the specified time, and do not take it in the dark to avoid making mistakes.
  • Do not stop taking the prescribed medication without consulting your doctor first.
  • Report any problems with prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, or dietary supplements to your doctor.
  • Do not take or share medications prescribed for another person, even if they have the same health problem.
  • Regularly check the use by dates of medications (including prescription and non-prescription medications) and dispose of any expired medications.
  • Keep medicines out of the reach of children and pets.
Dosing errors in children:
It is a type of medication error that often leads to a trip to the emergency department. This occurs when a child is given medication (liquid) and confusion about the units of measurement can lead to major errors in dosing, for example giving the child 5 teaspoons instead of the dose prescribed to him 5 milliliters will result in giving him five times more than the prescribed dose, so it is important:
  • Always use the dosing device (oral syringe or dosing cup) that comes with liquid medicine to make sure they get the right amount.
  • Do not use household spoons to measure medicine because they come in different shapes and sizes.
Tips for safe dosing:
  • Read all information on the medication label and follow the instructions.
  • Do not give the child large amounts of medicine more than the prescribed dose.
  • Always measure your child's dose using the dosing device (oral syringe or dosing cup) that comes with the medicine.
  • Do not use household spoons to measure medicine because they come in different shapes and sizes.
  • If you do not understand the instructions on the label or how to use the dosing device, talk to your pharmacist or doctor before giving the medicine.
Tips for storing medications safely away from children:
  • Choose a safe place to store medications, making sure the location is high and out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Always close the medicine bottle cap tightly after each use.
  • Avoid leaving medicine on the kitchen table or next to a sick child's bed, even if you have to give it again in a few hours.
  • Remind family members, house guests, and other visitors to keep purses, bags, or coats containing medications up high and away from children.
Last Update : 05 December 2023 11:52 AM
Reading times :