Medicines can be dangerous if used incorrectly or if the wrong amount is taken. Most Common Medication Poisoning Reported to the GPC
- Acetaminophen containing products (like Tylenol®)
- Antibiotics, antiseptics (like rubbing alcohol) antacids
- Aspirin containing products
- Cough and cold medicines
- Ibuprofen containing products (like Advil®)
- Iron pills
- Sleeping aids
- Street drugs
A common cause of medication poisoning occur from dosing errors (taking too much, taking within close time frame, taking wrong medicine or administering medicine the wrong way, e.g. ear drops being placed in the eyes). Another cause of medication poisoning occurs from drug interactions. Drug interactions occur when medication interacts with a certain food, herbal product, alcohol or another medication. Taking some over the counter (OTC) medications with prescription medications can cause serious problems; also, taking some medications with certain foods can lessen the effect of the medication. Adverse reaction is another form of medication poisoning which can occur if expired medications are used.
Tips to Prevent Medication Poisoning:
- Store medicine and vitamins in locked cabinets out of the reach of children.
- Keep medicine and vitamins in the original container.
- Use child resistant packaging and replace caps tightly.
- Always read labels before taking or giving medicine; check the name, expiration date and directions.
- Ask the doctor or pharmacist about any food or drinks that might react with the medicine.
- Tell the doctor about any medications including vitamins that you are taking.
- Never take medicine that belongs to someone else, even if you have the same symptoms.
- After each dose, record the time, date and name of drug that was taken or given.
- If you forget to take or give medicine at the correct time, do not double dose without checking with your doctor first.
- Do not take or give medicine in the dark, without your glasses on, or while you are sleepy.
- Never call medicine “candy.”
- Use a correct measuring spoon, do not use a kitchen spoon and know the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon.
- If you are taking more that one medication, make a list of all your medications to include name of medication, reason you are taking it, the amount you are taking, the times of day you take it and the name and phone number of doctor who prescribed it.
- If you suspect any medication errors or have any questions call the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 or 404-616-9000.
- Never give or take extra medicine if some get spilled; call your doctor or pharmacist first.
Safe Medicine Disposal:
It is important to get ride of any expired or unused medication in the correct way. This is especially true when children and pets are in the home. Here are some ways that poison centers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that you dispose of expired or unused medication.
- Medication disposal drop box, collection site or take-back event: These options are the best way to get rid of expired, unwanted or unused medicines. To find a disposal location near you visit the Diversion Control Division website, or rxdrugdropbox.org.
- Drug disposal pouch: There are now products available that deactivate drugs in an environmentally friendly way while reducing the opportunity for abuse or misuse. These include drug deactivating pouches, pods and other products.
- Household trashcan: To safely throw away unnecessary or expired medications, take pills out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance such as kitty litter or coffee grounds. Put this mixture into a sealed bag and toss into the garbage.
- Flushing: Some medicines should be safely disposed of by flushing down the sink or toilet. These drugs usually have instructions on the package that say they should be flushed as soon as they are no longer needed, or when they cannot be disposed of through a medication disposal drop box, collection site or take-back event.
See the complete list of medications that should be flushed.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Medication Safety Program
- Georgia Department of Law – Disposal of Prescription Drugs
- Georgia Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Initiative – Safe Storage and Secure Disposal
- Mother to Baby
- Safe Kids Worldwide – Medication Safety
- Scholastic – Other The Counter Medicine Safety
- Up and Away