Posted in Caregiving, In the Know, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Do We Need Pharmacists In Our Home?

I was shocked yesterday when I read a report about the increase in deaths due to medication mistakes.  The shocking thing is that these mistakes happened to people like you and me in their homes.  Yesterday the statistics were presented in the Archives in Internal Medicine, Vol 168, #14.

The journal states “Deaths from medication mistakes at home increased from 1132 in 1983 to 12, 426 in 2004.  Adjusted for population growth that amounts to an increase of more than 700 percent during that time”.  I read these statistics and was horrified.  We would all like to thing that we know enough about our medications that we wouldn’t make a fatal mistake.  What about those who are on multiple medications due to illness?

The scary part is that most of the mistakes in medications at home are a result of our ever increasing use of over-the-counter medications.  There are interactions that without a pharmacy degree we can’t predict.  The other cause cited in the journal is the medical communities increased writing of pain medication prescriptions.  We don’t realize that certain medications like pain medication reduce our respiration.   Depending on what other medications we’re ingesting we could be cooking up a recipe for disaster.

Of course it’s not practical to have a pharmacist living in your home.   If you are facing any health challenge be vigilant about what medications you take.  Before taking anything, consult your pharmacist.  It’s better to ask too many questions of your pharmacist, than run the risk of mixing medications and dying prematurely.  Do you really want to run the risk of a fatal mistake?