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Medication Safety Tips

July 25, 2017

Shaina Toomey, MSPT, Director of Rehabilitation Services, Fresh River Healthcare Center

(appeared in the Windsor Locks Journal, Windsor Journal and Bloomfield Messenger)

Most people take some type of medication, vitamins, herbal supplements in their lifetime.  Safety around over the counter medications as well as prescription medications is very important and can safe a life. If you are taking a medication, particularly a NEW medication it is important to be assured you know the name of the drug (brand name and/or generic), be familiar with the size and color and your specific dosage. This is important when refilling medications as well, do not assume the pharmacy can never made a mistake, human error can occur so check your medication when picking them up. Know the common side effects of the medication, what to do if you have a side effect and when it’s necessary to call your doctor. 

Important Dos & Don’ts

  • DO take each medication exactly as it has been prescribed, the use of pill boxes can help.
  • DO make sure that all your doctors know about all your medications including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements or herbs – it will assure the doctor prescribes the appropriate medication.
  • DO try to use the same pharmacy to fill all your prescriptions, so that they can help you keep track of everything you’re taking.
  • DO keep medications out of the reach of children and pets.
  • DO store medications per instructions; room temperature or refrigeration if needed.
  • DON’T change your medication dose or schedule without talking with your doctor.
  • DON’T use medication prescribed for someone else
  • DON’T crush or break pills unless your doctor instructs you to do so
  • DON’T use medication passed its expiration date.

If you have expired medication in your home it is important to get rid of them. The leaflet provided with the prescription often has disposal instructions. You can contact your town to see if they have a community “take-back” program.  Some medication can be poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet.  If there are no specific instruction and you must throw them in the trash be sure to do so in a manner no children or pets can get access to it.  Also be sure to remove all personal information from bottles for privacy protection.  When in doubt, you can always ask your pharmacist for advice.

The FDA does have recommendations for drug disposal see link: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm101653.htm.