Protecting Yourself and Others: Five Medication Safety Tips

Date: 2016-10-11

When taken properly, medication can help a host of symptoms – from over-the-counter antacids to calm an upset stomach to prescriptions made to alleviate pain from chronic illness. But if not used in the correct way by the correct person, more harm than good can come about. The health experts at Envolve, an integrated healthcare company, are pleased to share tips to help you and those around you practice medication safety.

  1. Follow Instructions. Read the medicine bottle label thoroughly and follow the instructions on the container or exactly as given to you by your Primary Care Provider (PCP). Many medications require multiple doses spread out strategically throughout the day. You should only take the amount directed, at the times indicated on the label. Taking more than recommended or a dose too early can lead to unwanted and dangerous side effects. If you have questions about the doses or how often to take your medication, ask the pharmacist or your PCP.  
  2. Pitch It. Safely disposing of expired medications will protect you and others in your home. Medication that is past its prime can be ineffective or even toxic. If you find yourself with expired medications, check to see if your community has a medicine take-back disposal program. From there, the program can take unused drugs to centers for proper disposal. Most pharmacies and PCP offices will also take expired medications and dispose of them properly for you.
  3. Store Safely. Children and pets tend to be notorious for getting into things they shouldn’t, including medications. Common places to put medication, like purses or nightstands, should be reconsidered due to their easy accessibility. Instead, consider putting medicines up and out of sight in a high location that isn’t as easily visible. 
  4. Don’t Ignore Side Effects. Prior to starting medication, talk to your PCP to understand potential side effects of medications. There are precautions in place with the pharmacy to ensure negative interactions do not occur, but be sure to speak with your PCP or pharmacist before adding an additional medication to your regimen. Read medicine labels for what they are supposed to do and the expected results, and if a problem occurs, contact your PCP immediately.
  5. Do Not Share. Medications are prescribed to you, for you. Do not share any unused medications, and do not store unused medication in case you need it later. Taking a prescription when not prescribed, or taking an expired prescription, can cause serious side effects. Every prescription should be finished completely unless otherwise advised by your PCP.