Drug Side Effects

How to Avoid Dangerous Drug Side Effects

A reassurance for many patients who take medication is the fact that most drug side effects are not dangerous and usually can be alleviated when the medication is discontinued. However, the opposite is true for others. The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that 700,000 people a year, especially the elderly, experience adverse drug side effects that lead to emergency room visits. In patients 65 years and older, one-third of the severe medical side effects were caused by three medicines: Coumadin, a blood thinner; insulin and Digoxin, a heart medication. These three drugs are known to be very potent and are drugs where the physician should monitor the patient closely.

Learn as much information as possible about new medication

When being prescribed a drug, it’s best to get as much information about it as possible from your physician, from your pharmacist, and from the enclosed safety information enclosed in its package.

  • Begin by asking your doctor or nurse in the office to explain potential drug side effects and any drug interactions very clearly. Ask if you will feel different when taking the drug.
  • Ask your doctor about any dangerous drug side effects and what action you should take if you experience them.
  • Tell your doctor about any drug side effects that you have had before. This is especially important because you may have a sensitivity or allergy to the drug or it may cause discomfort due to another unknown medical condition.
  • When you get your prescription filled, elect to speak to the pharmacist—and really listen.
  • Read the information that comes with each drug. Prescription drugs come with safety information for patients. You may need to follow some special directions when you are taking the drug. For example, you may need to avoid some other drugs, some foods, alcohol, or sun.

Helpful hint: Over-the-counter drugs can also have drug side effects. Read the packaging and insert for information. It is a good idea to review drug safety information every few months. If you believe your adverse reactions were caused by the negligence of another, contact Seeger Weiss.