Medication mistakes happen every day to people young and old. The more medicines we take, the more likely we are to make mistakes. It’s just human! We might accidentally reach for the wrong bottle or take a dose twice by mistake. We might forget that we have already taken our medicine for the day. If we’re trying to medicate in the middle of the night, we’re groggy, sleepy and not able to concentrate well or even see the instructions on the package. These very common mistakes can happen to anyone.
If not taken correctly, medicine can be a poison, too!
The experts at America’s 57 poison centers encourage you to take, give and store medicine safely by following these important tips:
- Read medicine labels carefully before each use and follow the directions. This goes for over-the-counter medicines, prescriptions and vitamins.
- Turn on the lights and put on your glasses to take or give any medicine. If you can’t see, you’re more likely to have mix-ups.
- Check the dosage each time.
- If it is difficult to keep track of your medications, use a chart to help you follow your medication schedule.
- Always lock over-the-counter medicines, prescription drugs, and herbal supplements and vitamins up and away and out of the reach of children.
- Always contact your doctor or pharmacist before you take an herbal product, as they can interact with your prescribed medicines.
- Never mix medicines and alcohol.
- Never “borrow” a friend’s medicine or take old medicine.
- Clean out your medicine cabinet periodically, and safely dispose of unneeded medicines.
Also, be aware that many medications can have the same ingredients. Acetaminophen, for example, is a very common ingredient that can be found in more than 600 products from over-the-counter drugs to prescription medications. If you take two acetaminophen-containing products together, you will exceed your recommended dose. Look at the ingredient listings on the package and know what you are taking.
Poisonings can happen to anyone, and poison centers have medical experts standing by to help everyone. Calls are free and confidential. Remember, you can call your poison center for information, too.
To reach your local poison center, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the nation’s 57 poison centers in their efforts to prevent and treat poison exposures. Poison centers offer free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hotline is staffed by specially trained medical experts – including doctors, nurses and pharmacists – who take calls in more than 150 languages and from the hearing impaired.
For questions about poison or if you think someone has been exposed to a poison, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison center.