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When It Comes to Medication Always Check the Label

With more than half of adults in the US taking prescription medications each week, there’s a lot of medications out there. Very often, however, mistakes are made when taking these medications, whether by the patient, the doctor or the pharmacist the prepares it. Everything from poor handwriting to a simple mix-up can result in you getting the wrong drugs. Luckily, there are ways you can help prevent medication errors and the nearly 700,000 cases of hospitalization that result from bad drug reactions each year.

The first thing you want to do when taking any new medication for the first time is to make sure that it’s the correct drug. How could this happen? There are many ways you can wind up with the wrong prescription, from mix-ups between two drugs that sound alike to simply being handing the wrong bag at check out. So, look before you dose and always confirm that the medication you have in your hands is that which you discussed taking with your doctor. Next, check the dosage on the package. You do not want to underdose of overdose on a medication so its essential that you read this portion of the label carefully.


When looking at any medication label, you also want to carefully read the instructions. You may need to take your medication with food or at a certain time each day. These are not rules that are meant to inconvenience you. They can help ensure your medication works properly and limit the amount of side effects you experience. Don’t forget to look carefully for any medications it tells you not to combine- this could be deadly.

Along these same lines, read the label carefully for the side effects a medication may have. Not only will this help you plan for when to take your medication (you don’t want to be driving to work after taking a pill that can make you drowsy) but it can also help you know what to expect and know whether or not what you experience is normal or worrisome. Any abnormal or severe side effects should be reported to your doctor immediately.

Finally, if you’re poking around in your medicine cabinet, always make sure a medication is not expired before taking it. In most cases, expired medication will simply have lost effectiveness. In others, it could cause some unpleasant and potentially life threatening side effects.

When it comes to taking medications there’s no such thing as being too cautious. Always know what you’re taking, how much and what your side effects could be. It will help improve your care and could save your life.

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