Medication Safety Basics

Medication Safety Basics

With so many medications available, it’s important to be aware of the risks of overdosing or harmful side effects. The CDC reports that about 82% of American adults take at least one medication daily. They estimate that about 1.3 million emergency department visits and 350,000 hospitalizations take place each year in the US due to adverse drug effects (ADEs). Americans also spend about $3.5 billion dollars on medical costs due to ADEs, and about 40% of those costs are thought to be preventable with proper drug administration practices. However, it’s likely ADEs will grow in the coming years because of the many new developments with medicines, the discovery of new uses for older medications, the increased use of medications for disease prevention and treatments, and the expansion of insurance coverage for prescription medications. While there is a lot of good that comes from proper medications, we still need to be careful and make sure we’re taking them as our doctor prescribes. This is especially true with opioids or narcotics. These may be necessary after a surgery or major injury, but they should never be prescribed or used for a long period of time due to dependence, addiction, and overdose risks. If you or someone you know has been taking a narcotic and you notice shifts in mood, that you’re taking more than you were prescribed, that you’re feeling sedated or high, or need too much or too little sleep, reach out to your doctor right away.

FDA Monitoring

The FDA has to approve any drugs sold in the US, and this includes over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs. The FDA evaluates the safety of a drug in addition to its effectiveness. The way they assess these factors is by looking at side effects, how the drug affects a medical condition, the way the drug is manufactured, and what the label says. This thorough check tells us that we can trust the drug will do what we want it to do but also provides us warnings and what to look for in case there’s a problem. The FDA also monitors the drug after the approval has taken place. When someone reports an ADE, health care providers and patients can report it on the FDA’s MedWatch website. Be sure you’re buying medications only from licensed pharmacies in the US and that you know how and to take your medications correctly.

Storing and Disposing of Medications

Always store medications appropriately and out of reach from little kids or from those that may take advantage of them. Some medications may even need to be locked away. If you have unused medicines at the end of your treatment, there are usually local places you can take them to for proper disposal. Some pharmacies have a mail-back program, but if you’re unsure, give your local police department a call and they’ll know how to handle is appropriately. Never sell your medications, and if you think you’ve had a narcotic or other potentially dangerous medication stolen, report it to your local police.

Safety First

Shield-Safety may not be a pharmacy, but we take safety seriously. We put educating the public about best practices on the top of our priority list. For the best in safety training and products, contact us today.