Prescription medications can be quite helpful when taken correctly, but taken the wrong way, it can cause many different problems. As a matter of fact, the FDA reports that over 1 million people are injured each year from medication errors. Here are the most common medication mishaps and how you can avoid them.
Taking the Wrong Medication
Problem: Many prescription medications have similar names. It it easy to confuse them when they sound the same. Also, some medications look a lot alike and can be mixed up.
Solution: A pill-minder can help you sort daily medication in advance so your loved one doesn’t accidentally take the wrong medication. For medications that are taken as needed, make sure they are clearly labeled.
Taking Too Much Medication
Problem: The most common medication error and the top cause of medication fatalities are overdoses. An overdose can happen with any drug. In fact, Tylenol, the most commonly used medication, has been linked to nearly 1000 fatalities.
Solution: Watch your loved one for signs of overdose, including mood swings, running out of medication too early, and over-sedation.
Taking Medication the Wrong Way
Problem: The wrong route of medication administration makes up 16% of medication errors according to the FDA report previously cited. This could involve, for example, swallowing a liquid that was intended for use as a nasal spray or injection.
Solution: Follow the instructions posted on the labels, and, if you aren’t sure, ask the loved one you are caring for or contact the pharmacists or doctor for assistance.
Problem: Certain medications should never be mixed. For instance, a patient may be prescribed a sleep medication from a sleep specialist and an opiate painkiller from their pain doctor. While these medications are safe taken individually and at the prescribed doses, but when they are combined, it can be dangerous.
Solution: Make sure your loved one’s doctors and pharmacist are aware of all the medications they are taking. You may also consider using online tools to make sure all prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and supplements do not conflict with each other. It is also helpful for you or a caregiver to attend doctor's appointments to hear firsthand what the dosage instructions are.
As you can see, there are many different mistakes that can occur when taking medication. However, there are some steps you can take to help your loved one avoid them. Another solution is to hire an in-home caregiver to help your loved ones manage their medications.
At Caring Senior Service, our caregivers provide medication reminders. As you consider ways to give support to your aging parents or relatives, consider including us in your plans. Contact our care team today!