Column: Avoid an adverse reaction to medications

  • Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Al of us have probably praised modern-day medications for miraculously getting us on the road to recovery or back to work quickly.

Indeed, medications have come a long way since the days of apothecaries, potions and ancient remedies. Yet the advantages of powerful medications also bring responsibilities on the part of all of us to be mindful of their dosage, side effects and regimen.

Thus, it’s important to ask your pharmacist questions so you’ll be familiar with the medication name and dose, what it is used for and possible side effects.

First of all, when picking up the medication, always ask your pharmacist to confirm that the medication is correct. When your doctor changes your dosage, have your pharmacist take the old dosage off active status on your profile to prevent any confusion in the future.

At the outpatient pharmacies at Georgetown Memorial Hospital and Waccamaw Community Hospital, we’re committed to providing the highest quality and safety to our patients when they are preparing to return home.

Here are some valuable tips that we share with patients:

Keep a list of prescriptions as well as over-the-counter medication that you are taking, and discuss this list with your physician and your pharmacist.

Take medications only as prescribed, and never increase the dose unless directed by your physician.

More is not better and can cause serious complications and even death.

Never share medications. • Don’t take any medicine that belongs to someone else, and resist the urge to be helpful and give yours to a friend or family member.

Check with your pharmacist on any special diet needs or restrictions while taking medication, because some foods and supplements can interact with your medications and lessen their effect.

Ask about sun exposure because certain medications simply don’t mix with prolonged time in the sun and can cause an adverse reaction. Doxycycline,for example, can cause severe sunburn.

When traveling, always pack medications first and keep them with you in carry-on luggage. Ask your pharmacist to give you an extra labeled bottle if you don’t need to carry your full supply for the trip.

Always take a list of medications with you.

Store medications at the right temperature.

Keep all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications out of sight and out of reach from children. That also goes for a purse. Remember that child-resistant caps are not child-proof.

Dispose of outdated medication properly. Before flushing old medicines down the toilet or tossing them in a trash can, ask if your city or county has a medicine take-back program. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends against flushing because sewage plants may not be able to adequately remove drug ingredients from the water.

By following these simple tips, you can minimize your risk for medication safety errors. Nobody likes to be ill or feel bad, and taking medications properly can help avoid the “bitter pill” of an adverse reaction.

David Foxworth,R.Ph., is outpatient pharmacy manager for Georgetown Hospital System.

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