- Being prescribed medications that are not needed.
- Medications are given in inappropriate doses – that includes under prescribing medications.
- Being given the wrong medications
Here is some information on safe medication practices including questions to ask that may protect you are your loved ones.
The more medications you are on the more likely you are to have medication interactions that could pose a problem to you.
Here is a real life example.
Just this last week, a gentleman in his 70’s came to see me because of problems he was having with low blood sugars. Looking over the medications he brought in revealed the immediate problems… two of the medications, taken at the same time, produce similar results. Further questioning revealed he was taking those medications at the wrong times.
I’ve written before about the safe use of medications, and it is important enough to write about again.
So here is my rant, from the perspective of a patient, family member of a patient, and as a nurse practitioner who prescribes medications.
- Make sure that you understand why you are taking a certain medications.
- Do you really need it?What is it’s intended effect?
- How long are you suppose to take it?
- When are you suppose to take it?
- What side effects do you need to be aware of?
- Which of these side effects, if they occur, should prompt you to notify your provider?
- Will this interact with your other medications?
- When and HOW should you stop the medications (there are several medications you should not just abruptly stop)?
- If you are being given medication by more than one provider, have you let them each know what you are taking?
- How many pharmacies do you go to? It’s imperative that you get your medications from ONE pharmacy. This helps cut down on medication interactions significantly…they have your entire list of medications and who is prescribing them.
- If your pharmacists tells you one thing and your provider tells you something else about a medication, please let your provider know so any misinformation, misunderstanding can be corrected.
- Tell your providers EVERYTHING you are taking! Nutritional supplements, vitamins and herbal preparations can all be considered medications, and some definitely have interactions with pharmaceutical medications.
- Bring EVERYTHING you are to an appointment for review. Include the supplements listed above, medications from all prescribing providers and specialists (this is important when you are seeing more than one person), as well as the medications prescribed by your primary health care provider.
- If you receive medications from the pharmacy that don’t look like your usual medication…ask your pharmacists. It just may be a different generic, or it could be an error.
Medications have the ability to assist your body in getting well, control symptoms, assist you in preventing disease…or they can cause you to be ill, and at worse, die.
While it is the responsibility of your providers to practice safe prescribing, it is up to you to provide them with accurate and detailed information so they can make the correct recommendations, and then to follow those recommendation.
My personal bias – the fewer medications you have to take…the better.
So often, with the appropriate lifestyle changes (read: proper diet, adequate exercise and avoidance of certain behaviors and substances), you reduce your need for medications significantly. And that’s good for everyone.