Anyone who takes more than one medication, has more than one health condition, and sees more than one doctor could be at risk of suffering an adverse drug reaction. Harmful drug reactions occur not only in terms of side effects from interactions between the drugs, but mixing drugs that could reduce effectiveness of one of the drugs or increase levels of an active ingredient.
Certain types of drugs are unsafe to take with others. There are ways to reduce the chance of being injured by a harmful drug interaction.
Tips for Avoiding Harmful Drug Interactions
The first tip to avoid harmful drug interactions is to remember that adverse interactions can occur not just between prescriptions, but also between prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, and between more than one over-the-counter medications. Before taking more than one drug, it should be discussed with a doctor or pharmacist.
A second tip is to always read the warning labels and instructions given with a medication. It’s just as important that directions are followed. If there are any concerns, a health professional should be contacted.
Third, any time a new drug is prescribed or you wish to begin a new over-the-counter medication, talk to the doctor or pharmacist about other medications you are taking. Ask if the medications are safe to take together.
Fourth, know why a medication is being prescribed, how to take it and what possible side effects could be experienced. If these details are not explained by a doctor, it’s important to ask.
A fifth tip is to keep a detailed list of all medications you are taking. The list should include the name of the drug, the dosage, the form in which it’s taken (such as capsule or liquid), time of the day it’s taken, and any other relevant information.
Sixth, use a pill dispenser to help keep medications organized. Using a dispenser can help prevent taking the wrong kind at the wrong time or overdosing. If necessary, ask a family member to help organize the pills in the pill dispenser each week to avoid mistakes.
Finally, try to use one pharmacy when getting prescriptions filled. If a pharmacist is aware of all medications the person is taking, it could raise awareness to any potential harmful interactions.
In cases in which a harmful interaction occurs due to a doctor’s or pharmacist’s error, or as a result of a defective medication, victims may speak with a lawyer about filing a claim for damages.