Medications help treat and manage health conditions. But medications can cause problems, especially if they're not taken correctly. Some medications can cause side effects or allergic reactions, or interact with other drugs, food or drink. Medication injuries could include liver problems, falls, confusion or vomiting.
Older adults are twice as likely to go to emergency departments for medication injuries. This is because older adults take more medications than other age groups.
Many emergency visits are caused by medicines that require blood tests to determine the correct dose. Common drugs that require blood testing, follow-up and careful monitoring include:
Blood thinners, like warfarin
Diabetes medicine, like insulin
Seizure medicines, like phenytoin and carbamazepine
Heart medicine, like digoxin
Pain medicines can cause injuries. Accidental overdoses of opioid medicines, like methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone, can cause death.
Contacts for potential overdoses or other medication injuries include emergency services (911), Poison Control Centers (1-800-222-1222), pharmacists or other health professionals.
Getting rid of unused, unwanted or expired medications helps avoid drug injuries. Local police stations or public health departments can explain how to safely get rid of medications. Medications should not be flushed down the toilet.