Do you know what the second leading cause of accidental death in theUnited Statesis? You may be surprised! According to the CDC, poisonings have become the leading cause of accidental injury death in theUnited Stateswith 90% being related to prescription medications. A study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that hospitalizations for poisoning by prescription medication have increased by 65% from 1999 to 2006. A majority of these medications were opioid analgesics (or pain medications). In addition, the number of poisoning deaths exceeded the number of motor vehicle traffic deaths for the first time since at least 1980. In 2008, there were more than 41,000 poisoning deaths, compared with about 38,000 motor vehicle traffic deaths.
These surprising facts and numbers highlight the importance of the correct usage of prescription medications. It is very important to read the directions for your medications carefully as well as listen to your doctor and pharmacist. It is not always safe to take more medication than is prescribed, even if you miss a dose.
In addition to taking your medications correctly, it is also important to dispose of your medications properly to prevent misuse and abuse by others. Programs such asIowa’s Take-away or take-back days are available for the disposal of non-controlled medications. Talk with your pharmacist to find out ways to dispose of controlled medications.
By: Brett Barker, PharmD, and PharmD Candidates: Megan Alons, Amanda Johnson, and Lauren Frain.