Guidelines for Safe Use of Prescription Drugs: Avoiding Costly Mistakes

Every time an individual consumes drugs, foods, fluids or other substances, they have to be broken down by the body before they can be absorbed into the system. Waste products produced from the consumption are assimilated and cleared from the body through various organs such as the kidney and liver.

When doctors prescribe medicine, patients should be very careful with the use of the drugs. They should make sure they fully understand how to use the drugs, their effectiveness and side effects. People should avoid medication errors because improper use of prescription medication can have harmful side effects. Here are guidelines for safe use of prescription drugs.

  1. Misunderstandings and miscommunication between patients and their doctors or pharmacists cause many medication errors. Other causes of errors include illegible handwritings on prescription orders, mislabeling on medication containers, spelling errors especially on decimal points and incorrect number of zeroes on labels.
  2. These errors can cause significant changes in dosage. Consequently, the side effects may also be severe. Learn the names of the prescription drugs and understand their dosage and purpose. One of the best guidelines for safe use of prescription drugs is by being a well-informed patient. Those with multiple conditions should keep track of all the drugs they are taking, their time schedules and dosage. One of the best ways of doing this is by keeping a personal journal or medical logbook. Keep the checklist in view of other family members so that they can assist in case of an emergency.
  3. Log in every medication taken on the logbook or journal. Note the dosage and time schedule. Include any usual side effects experienced.
  4. Inform the doctor of all the changes in daily life including: Changes in sleeping patterns, Allergic reactions to certain medications, Those who are pregnant, have plans of becoming pregnant or are nursing a baby should also inform the doctor before they prescribe medication, and Inform the doctor of all illnesses that another doctor is treating or recently treated.
  5. Patients should always follow the prescription directions as well as the guidelines for safe use of prescription drugs given by their doctors and pharmacists. Do not change anything unless instructed by the healthcare professionals.
  6. Some drugs may cause drowsiness. Patients who experience such side effects should avoid driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery. Other drugs increase sensitivity to sunlight while others need to be taken after or before meals. The key is to abide by the instructions of the physician and learn how to take prescription medicine correctly.
  7. Caregivers for a child or adult should remind them to take their medication or administer the medication themselves. In case it is a school-going child, contact the school nurse to ensure they know how to administer the drug properly.
  8. Monitor side effects of the medication and record the reaction on the logbook or journal. The side effects could be the result of various causes. Contact the doctor if the side effects are unusual.
  9. Learn the signs of overdose and when to call an emergency number in case a family member has taken an overdose. Keep the emergency number at an accessible and visible area so that any family member can make the call in case they suspect an overdose.
  10. Keep a list of all prescription drugs taken. Carry the list on the next visit to a doctor and explain the drug names, purpose and how often they have been taken.

If you found the Top 10 Guidelines for Safe Use of Prescription Drugs helpful, please forward it to a friend or family member so they can avoid costly mistakes.

Angie's List - Review eDrugSearch

About this Angie’s List Expert: Cary Byrd is the president and founder of eDrugSearch.com. Based in San Antonio, eDrugSearch.com is a free cost comparison engine that helps consumers get safe access to affordable medications and advocates licensed online pharmacies as a widely accepted alternative. 

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