Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Health Care and Double Dosing Meds

Have you ever been guilty of taking too much of your prescription medications? Have you ever double dosed? It’s a common problem with people who are on maintenance medications or who may be responsible for dosing others under their care. Children especially may be vulnerable, and it’s absolutely critical to be as careful as possible when giving medication to kids.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, more than 70,000 visits to emergency rooms each year are for accidental medication overdoses, some of which are ultimately fatal. Most cases occur when a child accesses prescription medication while a parent or childcare provider is distracted or in another room, though there are incidents involving medication poisoning resulting from inadvertent double or incorrect doses. If your doctor has prescribed medication or recommended an over-the-counter drug for treatment and symptom management, these tips may help you prevent an ill-timed second dose, as found on www.becomeananny.org , and here is the detailed information: http://www.becomeananny.org/blog/preventing-double-dosing-when-children-are-prescribed-medication/ .

As children that are prescribed daily medication for a chronic condition begin to get older and accept responsibility for their own dosage, it’s imperative that parents take the time to explain the importance of scheduling each and every dose properly, as well as the many intricacies of taking a powerful chemical. Instituting a “when in doubt, don’t” policy, which means that your child always opts not to take medication if they aren’t sure about the last dose without speaking to an adult, can help to prevent kids that are eager to grow up from overdosing themselves with their medication, according to www.BecomeaNanny.org.

According to Southwestern Medical Center in Lawton, Oklahoma, every day, people play Russian roulette with their prescription drugs, herbal and over-the-counter or OTC medications and vitamins. Mixing these medications and remedies can result in serious or even fatal health consequences. It is common for doctors to tell (patients) to bring in their medications; most of the time they don’t. Many patients don’t know for sure what they are taking. If they do know the name, then they don’t know the strength or dosage, or they know what the pill looks like but not what it is.

Sometimes people bring in a list, but it is usually an older list without their current medications listed or changes in strength. When patients actually bring them in, very often physicians find that they have two bottles of the same thing or they have two different medications within the same class which results in double dosing. Many people not only have more than one doctor now, they also use more than one pharmacy; so duplicate or overlapping drugs for the same health issue can’t even be caught by the pharmacist. More details can be found at this site: http://www.southwesternmedcenter.com/2012/news/if-you-want-to-avoid-double-dosing-brown-bag-it/ .

With insurance companies mandating the use of generic drugs whenever they're available, it's all too common for patients to get confused and end up with bottles of a brand-name drug and a generic version at the same time without realizing it, according to www.Caring.com. "For example, a common diuretic is Furosemide. The brand name is Lasix. A patient might have a bottle of Furosemide and a bottle of Lasix and not know they're the same thing," says internist Bruce Mann, M.D. "In essence, the patient is taking twice the dose." Since generic drugs don't list the equivalent brand name on the label, you might not spot this unless your brand-name version lists the generic name in the fine print.

How to avoid it: When your doctor prescribes a new medication, make sure you have a chance to go over all the details you might need to know later. Have the doctor write down the name of the drug (brand and generic, if available), what it's for, its dosage, and how often and when to take it. Try to remember both names for future reference. Also, look up the generic names for each of your brand-name prescriptions and vice versa; then line up all of your medicine bottles and see if you have any duplications. The numbers are simply staggering: Every year 1.5 million people are sickened or severely injured by medication mistakes, and 100,000 die. And yet all of those deaths are preventable. Much more info about medication mistakes can be found at this site: http://www.caring.com/articles/medication-mistakes .

Seniors are especially vulnerable to double dosing medications. According to www.CareFamily.com, proper medication management is vitally important for seniors’ daily care, over-all health and well-being. According to the Federal Drug Administration, medication misuse often causes falls, moodiness, loss of appetite and weakness. Seniors should take their medicine in the exact amount and at the time when their doctor prescribes. Some seniors, if they miss a day’s dose, will double-dose the next day. Others may take a medication in the evening that should be taken in the morning. Another common thing seniors may do is cut pills in half to extend the quantity, in an effort to save money. Consider using a medication planner or pill case to organize the medications in a daily format, or even chart them on paper or a calendar. More advanced medication dispensing equipment is also available. More information about tips on taking medication can be found at this site: https://www.carefamily.com/Articles/health-medicine/managing-your-medications/ .

Seniors having trouble understanding or remembering or whose health is declining are particularly vulnerable to medication errors, according to www.MedicineOnline.com. Research shows the average senior takes four prescription medications daily and fills 18 a year. Of course, people with multiple chronic conditions may take many more medicines each day. And, when you add in any over-the-counter remedies or nutritional supplements that seniors rely on to relieve symptoms or improve their health, it's no wonder they sometimes get confused or have drug interactions that could pose serious health threats. Complicated dosing regimens don't help matters.

People taking the blood thinner Coumadin, for instance, must be constantly monitored to ensure they're getting enough of the drug to keep their blood from clotting but not so much that they experience any unusual bleeding. Physicians may fine-tune the dosing by switching patients, say, from one tablet daily to one tablet four days a week and one-and-a-half tablets three days a week. Plus, there's also the risk that patients being treated by more than one physician will be prescribed a double dose of the same active ingredient or two drugs that interact negatively with one another. More details can be found at this website: http://www.medicineonline.com/news/10/97/Help-Seniors-Sidestep-Medication-Mishaps.html .

The probability of double dosing is common, and the best options to avoid it can be found with the sources quoted in this article. The most important aspect of taking medications is to follow the directions, and talk with your doctor about any and all medications you take regardless of type, including vitamins, supplements, and all prescriptions. Prevent tragic consequences by paying attention to what you are doing, and also have someone you can trust to help you if you experience difficulty with your medications. Be safe, not sorry.

Until next time.

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