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UofL Physicians urge patients to raise awareness of medication safety

by UofL Today last modified Jun 24, 2014 03:52 PM

Medications are used for a number of reasons – with the primary use of improving our health. If not properly taken, medication could cause harm. Medication safety is important not only when dealing with patients, but also for the health of you and your family.

Kentucky leads the country (tied with West Virginia) in scripts per capita utilization, and Kentucky is always in the top four in state rankings on prescription drug burden.

According to Demetra Antimisiaris, U of L department of family and geriatric medicine, the average script per capita use in the U.S. is 12.1, but Kentucky stands at 19.3. She said if you add over-the-counter medication use plus herbs and supplements, it becomes clear that the use of these products is a part of life. 

There are 400,000 deaths per year  considered premature and preventable, of which 18 percent were lethal medication-related adverse events.

“We know that adherence to medication regimen contributes to adverse events, but monitoring and prescribing are more significant contributors to medication misadventure,” Antimisiaris said. “These statistics mean that the consumer has to advocate for their own safety in the use of medications. The presumption that because a product is on the market it is safe, either through FDA approval as in prescription and OTC products, or with little FDA regulation (as in supplements and herbals) is a false assumption.”

Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  •       Keep records and information about your medications (“medications” here means prescription, OTC, herbals and supplements).
  •       Update your list every time you add or stop using a product. (This is especially important when you have multiple doctors.)
  •      Bring a copy for each doctor’s office, hospital, or any health care encounter you go to; the average office visit is from 15 to 20 minutes long and you can help them get the information by leaving an updated copy of your medication list.
  •        Obtain written information about your medications from internet or live sources like your pharmacy. Use online medication information services such as drugs.com or rxlist.com.
  •       Whenever you experience a change in your health status, consider ruling out medication causes in addition to other causes.
  •       Talk to your doctor about making sure you are taking medication properly. If you need a physician please call (502) 588-6000 or have you used our request an appointment online form yet? Visit https://www.uoflphysicians.com/request-appointment to schedule your next appointment.

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