HEALTH

People Are More Likely To Make Mistakes When Taking Medicine At Home

15/07/2017 1:42 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2017 1:43 AM AEST

Can't decide between one Advil or two? Or maybe you're thinking about taking extra-strength pills?

According to a new study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, most people end up making a bunch of medication mistakes when they're at home.

From taking the wrong dose to not waiting long enough between doses and even taking the wrong pill altogether, the researchers found medication mix-ups have doubled since 2000.

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As noted by the United States' National Poison Database System, there are nearly 1.5 million medication errors that occur each year.

"We know that a third of the cases in this study resulted in hospital admissions, so these aren't minor errors," lead author Nichole Hodges said. "Fortunately, most do not result in the serious outcomes found in this study."

Over the course of the 13 years covered in the study, researchers found more than 67,000 medicinal errors occurred within patient's homes resulting in the deaths of 414 people.

Still, Hodges notes since the study only looked at errors reported to poison control centres, the findings underestimate the true numbers.

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Though these incidents are most likely the result of patient error, Henry Spiller, a co-author of the study, says drug manufacturers and pharmacists play a role in reducing errors as well.

"There is room for improvement in product packaging and labelling," he said in a press release. "Dosing instructions could be made clearer, especially for patients and caregivers with limited literacy or numeracy."

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Medication mistakes can easily be avoided. Hodges suggests keeping a written log of the date and time when medication is taken to ensure a schedule is kept and extra doses are not administered.

If you are taking or administering prescribed medications, Hodges also advises speaking with your doctor or pharmacist to fully understand how the drug is to be used, minimizing the room for error.

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