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Every year, the Palmetto Poison Center receives thousands of calls from South Carolinians regarding their medications. Many of these callers are elderly persons who have questions about their prescriptions or recommended dosages. This specific sector of our population is oftentimes prone to uncertainty, which can stem from a number of sources, including loss of memory or confusion resulting from a large volume of prescribed medications.
Forgetting to take (or accidentally taking too many) prescription drugs can have dangerous consequences, as unintended drug events can lead to costly emergency hospitalization. Blood thinners and various medicines for diabetes and regulating blood pressure are of particular concern, since many seniors are prescribed these types of medication. Any accidental ingestion (or failure to adhere to the dosages prescribed by your doctor) can be potentially threatening to one’s health.
Tools such as pill organizers or medication reminders can prove extremely useful in combating medication poisoning. If you are technologically savvy, you may even want to consider downloading software on your computer or applications on your iPad (or similar device) that help remind you when it’s time to take certain medicines. Performing a search for “medication management” will display numerous results.
In addition to using newer forms of technology, here are a few other simple tips to assist in preventing medication poisoning:
Additionally, the S.C. College of Pharmacy and the Palmetto
Poison Center are offering free classes and materials to interested
participants during May, June, July and August through their statewide “Saving Our Seniors” medication safety program. Some topics that will be covered include instructions on taking your medication safely, drug interactions and using medication logs.
Question of the Week
What should someone do if he or she suspects they have medication poisoning?
Call the Poison Control Center or your doctor immediately. The center can be reached toll-free at (800) 222-1222. In addition to offering assistance if you take the wrong medication or too much of a particular medicine, the center is able to answer any questions you may have regarding possible drug interactions. When calling, knowing your age, the name of the substance ingested, the time the substance was ingested, and your approximate weight can serve as helpful information for the poison information specialist.
For more information, contact the S.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging at (803) 734-9900 or (800) 868-9095 or visit www.aging.sc.gov.