How do we prevent drug interaction problems?

3 answers | Last updated: Jul 24, 2015
Karen in falls church, va asked...

My mom has been battling major health issues for the past 18 months, but with all that, the one thing that had us calling 911 and rushing her to the ER were drug interactions. This happened on two separate occasions. I read the other day in Consumer Reports Health that drug interaction problems was a top killer of adults (how sad). You have a blurb on how to consolidate all meds to a single pharmacy. (My mother often gets meds directly from the hospital during her stay.) Do you have any more advice? It's a tricky subject, but hopefully there's more advice out there.

Expert Answers

You are wise to be concerned by the potentially dangerous side-effects of mixing drugs. And yes, this is a significant problem. (More so for older people, who may be more forgetful about what and how much medication they're taking, or have problems reading the small print about side-effects and contraindications.)

I do think, however, there's a fairly simple solution, though it takes some effort and vigilence. Make a list of all the medications your parent is taking, including dosages, and run it past a pharmacist. Pharmacists are excellent resources for anything to do with medications, but easily overlooked as they rarely work at the front counter directly with customers. Most pharmacists are happy to take the time to work with individual clients, in person or on the phone. (You may have to schedule a time.) In fact, many pharmacies and HMO's require pharmacists to consult privately with patients if there are risks associated with prescribed medications

A few helpful hints:

  • Tell the pharmacist about all over-the-counter medications your parent takes, as these can interact with prescribed meds.
  • Discuss your parents' alcohol intake with the pharmacist.
  • Every time your parents' meds change, review the new regime with the pharmacist.

There are also several on-line tools that give you information about mixing medications. You enter the name of medications, and the site gives you information on risks and side-effects. Do a search with the word "medications" or "mixing medications." Some people like doing this, then double-checking with an in-person pharmacist for added reassurance.

Good luck with this important effort.

Community Answers

Floyd in florida answered...

1 Bundle up and bag all of your medications Both prescribed and over the counter and take them to you pharmacist he will analyze them and tell you if there are any conflicts!

2. Every time you visit you Doctor (GP) You would be wise to again take all medication and drugs so that he may see the Big picture and look for any conflicts or problems!

3. Don't keep you doctors in the dark about specialist or other Doctors you are seeing! All Doctors and Specialist need to be on the

Same sheet of Music to get your drugs just right!

Jacqui1 answered...

I have been doing all the suggestions. I am 82 and have just recently started breaking out in dry patches that itch on my legs, chest & arms, neck&face. Could this be an allergic reaction and should I see a doctor or ask a pharmacist.