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Fears Over Medication Mismanagement - What You Need to Know!

By Karen Olson May 17, 2021 210 Views

Medication Errors

Emergency room admissions each year account for 1.3 million drug-related complications. Of these admissions, 350,000 stay longer at the hospital for further treatment. Approximately 125,000 Americans die each year from missing medication doses. For a prescription to work properly, the user needs to take at least 80% of the doses on time. 1 Fifteen percent of hospital patient admissions annually are for medication mismanagement issues.2

In the United States, however, patients only take their meds an average of 50 to 60% of the time. 3 As with many frightening stories, you might think "That'll never happen to me." You may be right, but what is stopping medication mismanagement from claiming the life of someone you love?

Medication Accidents

Following Prescription Directions Can Save Lives

Although keeping a schedule for daily prescription doses can be difficult for many, some groups of people have an even harder time managing their medicine. Even with the use of pill organizers, elderly patients -- especially those with Alzheimer's or dementia -- are at risk of forgetting what day it is and whether or not they've taken their life-saving medications. Always contact your doctor with any questions you have about missed medication.

Medication Abuse Has Consequences

In the decade between 1999 and 2019, half of a million people overdosed on opioids. That's an average of 5,000 deaths per year. The longer you are prescribed painkillers, the more likely you are to become addicted and possibly overdose. 4

Prescription abuse is an issue. Elementary school teachers warn “Grandma's pills are not candy and shouldn't be shared." Even with these warnings, thousands of Americans ignore sound medical advice, become addicted, and often die from abusing medication.

Prescription Administration Errors

Consider This Scenario

At dinner, a woman empties that day's mountain of medication from her pill organizer, but she fails to realize that she never refilled her blood pressure medication. She took the last pill yesterday, so it's not likely that she'll even notice a change tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after. In fact, she doesn't notice any changes until four or five days later when she experiences severe sweating and heart palpitations while heading downstairs for breakfast.

Medication Mismanagement

Whether it be overdosing or underdosing, medication mismanagement is no joke. Taking the wrong amount of a medication could kill you. In this day and age where medical technology has made ailment-treating drugs so widely accessible, it is our responsibility to handle them wisely. Not only is this important -- your life depends on it.

With any prescription medication, it is crucial to understand the risks that come from missing several doses. Below is a list of five common medicines and the possible consequences of neglecting to take them.

What if I forgot to take my cholesterol medicine?

Possible side effects include the following:

  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of heart attack 5

What if I forgot to take my blood pressure medication?

Possible side effects include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Angina
  • Heart attacks
  • Death6

What if I forgot to take my antibiotics for a few days?

Possible side effects include the following:

  • Infection relapse
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Rashes
  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yeast infections7

What if I forgot to take my antidepressant?

Possible side effects include the following:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Stomach pain
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Body aches
  • Irritability8

What if I forgot to take my birth control pill?

Possible side effects include the following:

  • Pregnancy
  • Spotted bleeding
  • Menstruation9

Medication Errors

The numbers don't lie. Medication mismanagement takes the lives of thousands of Americans each year, and yet patients average a 60% consistency rate in remembering to take their pills. Used properly, medications save lives. However, if neglected or abused, the same chemicals used to treat life-threatening ailments have the power to kill you. Consider these facts the next time the cashier asks, “Do you have any questions for the pharmacist today?"

Footnotes

Posted in: Patient Care