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Health Alert, Prescription Drug Safety
Are Doctor-Prescribed Drugs Safe?

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How many drugs are you taking daily? Are prescription drugs safe?

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I read a report recently that said most people with a serious health condition like diabetes or heart disease can be taking up to a dozen different doctor-prescribed drugs at once. That is a lot of chemicals!

Given the high percentage of side effects per drug and the potential for interactions between drugs, it seems a vital part of health care to be your own investigator. If you rely on your doctor or pharmacist to always be up on all possible prescription drug interactions, you are taking a risk that could put your health in jeopardy. Be aware. Do your research on the medications you take on sites such as Health Line. The life you save may be your own.

Prescription drug safety tips - Are your prescription drugs safe?
There are zero prescription drugs that I've ever read about (and I have a PDR) which lack serious side effect warnings. As far as I can tell, ALL doctor-prescribed medications contain warnings, cautions, possible side effects and possible drug interactions. In fact, a sizeable list of possible side effects is almost always present in the accompanying paperwork that comes with a prescription, as is the list of potential drug interactions and contraindications. Does this mean prescription drugs are not safe? You decide.

While I cannot tell you exactly how to best work with your doctor, I can tell you that it needs to be a very active partnership. I can share some pointers that will allow you to be more pro-active in your own health care, if that is your wish. Learning more about prescription drug safety is actually in everyone's best interest so I hope the health alert information here will assist you in becoming more actively involved with the medications you take.

Be Vigilant about Drug interactions:
Be certain to ask your doctor about drug interactions whenever a new medication is added. Don't be afraid to make your doctor accountable for having researched that potential for you before adding a new medicine. In addition, don't just take their word for it. Do your own research. Cross-reference every drug you are taking and if you see a potential interaction that concerns you, talk to a pharamacist about it. If the pharmacist concurs with your concern, talk to your doctor once more.

Double-Check all Prescriptions, at your doctor's office as well as the pharmacy:
Doctors are not known for their perfect hand-writing. It is not uncommon for a prescription to be misread by a pharmacist. For example, recent mistakes in filling prescriptions resulted in Topamax and Toprol-XL being confused as well as Rozerem and Razadyne, according to rxsafety.com. Ask your doctor for the exact name and dosage of drug they are prescribing and, when you get the prescrption filled, confirm with the pharmacist that the drug was labeled and filled correctly.

Avoid the first of the month rush at your drug store, if possible:
I realize that a lot of elderly people have to get their prescriptions filled when they get their money, at the first of the month. However, if you have enough medication to last for a week and can avoid that first of the month pharmaceutical rush, your chances of getting a prescription mis-filled may be lower. I read on more than one website, including Science Daily, that there is an increase in mistakes during that time, due to the sheer number of prescriptions being filled. Of course, you should NEVER go without your medication to avoid having it filled during the high-risk time of the month.

If all your prescriptions fall on the first of the month, ask your doctor about giving you a few samples, so that you can extend your prescription into the next month a few days. That would only need to happen once to get you out of the first of the month cycle of refilling your prescriptions. If you must get your prescriptions filled during the busy time, examine the medicine in each prescription before leaving the pharmacy area. Make sure the right pill is in each bottle and that the dosage is correct. This is actually a good practice to always do.

Also, if you get more than one month filled at a time (some people get 3 months at a time; my brother does, and he takes Crestor.) be sure you got three months worth of your drug. My brother had his Crestor filled once and only got a month. The drugstore said there was nothing they could do (which I simply do not believe) and his insurance wouldn't cover another prescription so he had to go without for two months. Count your meds before you leave the pharmacy counter, or at least count over 30. If they look at you funny, let them look. It's your health.

So, are prescription drugs safe?
Yes and no. Prescription medications are only as safe as:
~ the research that went into them
~ the care with which they are prescribed
~ the level of monitoring and follow up care that is scheduled
~ the absence of dangerous interactions with other medications
~ the ability of the prescribing physician to clearly explain dosage and interactions
~ the compliance of the patient in following dosage instructions
~ the correctness of diagnosis on which the need of prescription is based.

Non-medical folks, even if knowledgeable about health and wellness, are generally not qualified to assess what might be a life-threatening reaction to a prescription drug, and the typical patient is likewise unqualified. However, as the patient, it is your body being affected so you have as much right to sound an alarm as any diagnostic test. Checking with your doctor is always a good idea, even if you are not experiencing side effects that are disturbing. If you are having symptoms you can't explain, check with your doctor sooner rather than later. Ask your doctor if your prescription drug is safe to use as directed with the symptoms or if you need to reduce dosage, change the drug or go off the drug.

What is important is speed. Don't wait to see if things get better. If you are experiencing side effects that may be drug-related, call your doctor right away. Always check with your doctor before ceasing medication at any time but obviously, if you start taking a new drug and you have what you feel may be life-threatening reactions, call and see if it's ok to stop immediately or not. Prescription drug safety involves active patient participation to be successful. If your doctor won't talk to you about keeping safe while taking prescription drugs, get another doctor.

Health Care Disclaimer: The health care information presented here, about prescription drug safety, is not intended to override the instructions of your health care professional. Any action taken based on the contents found in this or any educational health care information we provide is at the sole discretion of the reader. Please consult with your doctor regarding questions you may have about prescription drugs you are taking now. The question of whether prescription drugs are safe is answered thru active partnership with your doctor, your pharmacist and your own self-monitoring.