Skip to content

Information and Resources

7 Dangerous Drug Mistakes

Experts explain the dangers of mixing drugs, not checking labels, and other common drug mistakes.
Font Size
A
A
A

5. Using Multiple Pharmacies

"If you go to multiple pharmacies, they can't screen for drug interactions," Grissinger says, because they won't have a complete list of all the medications you are on, as a single pharmacy is likely to keep in its computer. If you use your HMO's ground pharmacy and also use its mail-order service, each may not have a list of the medications filled at the other, he says.

If you insist on using multiple pharmacies due to convenience or cost savings, "show them a list of every medicine you take," Grissinger says.

If you go to another health care professional -- for example, a dermatologist in addition to your primary care doctor -- they should ask you which other medications you are on before prescribing you another. But if they don't, be prepared to tell them. Either way, take a list of your medications and the doses with you, says David W. Bates, MD, chief of the division of general medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Bates served on the Institute of Medicine committee on identifying and preventing medication errors.

6. Not Taking Medications as Directed

"Compliance is a major problem, especially in the elderly," Jenkins says. "As many as one-third of older people don't take medicines as directed." It may be cost related, he says, or simple forgetfulness.

What to do? You can use the boxes that help mind your pills by having a day of the week for each, or simply put your medicines in a place where you will remember to take them. Grissinger's mother, for instance, keeps medication she must take daily on the kitchen windowsill, in full view.

When medicine is prescribed, Jenkins says, ask your doctor if there is a way to take the medicine less often during the day, such as switching to a higher dose or a different medicine that doesn't require as many doses.

While some forget to take medicines, others overdo, says Bates. "Too much of a drug gets people into trouble," he says. And that includes over-the-counter preparations. "People will not get enough relief and will take more thinking it will be helpful." Often, it spells trouble, he says.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
build a better butt
How to build a better butt.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
psoriasis
How to keep flares at bay.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
spinal compression fracture
Treatment options.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.