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May 02

Medication Safety Tips

Posted on May 2, 2022 at 9:13 AM by Bridget Craker

Prescribed and over-the-counter medications play an important role in the health of many people. However, when these medications are used incorrectly, or if they get into the wrong hands they can be dangerous. Additionally, some medications need to be disposed of in a particular way for the health of the environment. You can keep yourself and others safe by taking a few precautions when it comes to storing, using, and disposing of your medication.

Adverse drug events (ADEs) are allergic reactions, side effects, or overmedication caused by using medication incorrectly. About 1.3 million emergency department visits and 350,000 hospitalizations occur each year due to ADEs. The numbers of adverse drug events are likely to grow in the future due to: the development of new medicines, the discovery of new uses for older medicines, an aging American population, increased use of medicines for disease treatment and prevention, and the expansion of insurance coverage for prescription medicines.

Storing Medication at Home

Choosing a safe sport is key for where you keep your medications. The location you choose should be up and away from the reach of children. Never leave medicine out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child’s bedside, even if you have to give it again in a few hours. When you’re putting away bottles after using them, be sure to relock the cap on the bottle – you should hear a click, or no longer be able to turn the cap. You may also consider keeping your medication in a medication lock box or bag. These devices are about the size of a toaster that can lock using a key or code to keep medication secure. Green County Public Health has medication lock boxes available for the community, if you’re interested in getting one please call us at (608) 328-9390.

Taking Your Medication

Before you take your medication, or before you give any medicine to a child be sure you know the correct dose, and don’t take or give medicine more often than directed. If the medication is liquid you should use the syringe or cup that comes with the medication, do not use household spoons or estimate the amount of medicine you measure. If you have questions about the dosage of a medication ask your local pharmacist! They’re there to answer your questions about medication. Additionally, be sure to ask your doctor or your pharmacist about medication interactions. Certain medications should not be taken together because they could have negative side effects.

Medication Disposal

Medication take-back days and medication disposal boxes are great ways to get rid of unused or leftover medication. Most communities in Green County have a medication drop-box, and local law enforcement hosts medication take-back days a few times throughout the year. To find a list of drop-box locations please visit our webpage on medication safety. Many medications are ok to be disposed of with your regular trash. To do so follow these steps: First, remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. Then, put the mixture in something you can close (a re-sealable zipper storage bag, empty can, or another container) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out. Next, you can throw the container in the garbage. Additionally, you should scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy before throwing the packaging away. Certain medications are ok to be flushed down the toilet, to learn about what medications are included please go to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing.