Wellness Words September 2015

Wellness Words September 2015

HealthLink Littauer’sCarol Tomlinson-Head


Submitted by Carol Tomlinson, RN BS

Community Health Educator


Do’s & Don’ts Of Medication Safety

According to the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices, 40% of adverse drug reactions requiring hospitalization occur in people over age 60. This is, in part, due to the facts that people in this age group use 30% of all prescription drugs and 40% of all over-the-counter (OTC) medication.

Don’t gamble with your health! What you don’t know CAN hurt you. Every drug, whether prescribed or OTC, has potential side effects and may interact with other meds or food in a way that may not be safe. For example, antacids can affect blood thinner absorption as well as make some antibiotics ineffective.

To keep safe when you are taking medication, you need to follow this simple list of do’s and don’ts to make sure your medication works safely to improve your health.


  1. Do take each medication exactly as prescribed.
  2. Do make sure all of your doctors know about all of your medications.
  3. Do tell your doctor(s) about any OTC medications you are taking including vitamins and other supplements.
  4. Do use the same pharmacy so they can help you understand how to use all of your drugs safely and identify possible interactions.
  5. Do keep medications out of the reach of children and pets.


  1. Don’t change your medication dose or schedule unless you talk with your MD.
  2. Don’t use medication prescribed for someone else.
  3. Don’t crush or break pills unless your doctor or pharmacist advises you to.
  4. Don’t store your meds in locations that are humid, too hot or too cold. It is recommended that you don’t store medication in your bathroom, near your stove or in the refrigerator, unless the pharmacist indicates particular temperatures for the drug.
  5. Don’t use medication beyond its expiration date.

Dispose of Medications Safely

When medications have passed their expiration dates, disposing of them safely will protect you and others, including children and pets, and anyone who might find these meds in your trash. Safe disposal of meds also protects the environment from toxic pollutants.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following disposal guidelines:

  • Remove drugs from their original containers and remove or scratch out identifying information from labels.
  • Do NOT crush pills or capsules.
  • Mix medications with kitty litter, coffee grounds, or another substance that will absorb them or make them undesirable.
  • Put this mixture into a sealable plastic bag or a bottle with screw-on lid and place in trash.
  • Check with your local police department or pharmacy for their drug take back plans.

Prescription Drug Disposal Day

Locally, the annual drug disposal day will occur at:

All County Sheriff Departments & Many Local Police Departments

Saturday, September 26, 2015

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

For more information about prescription drug disposal, contact the HFM Prevention Council at 736-8188, check with your local police agency or pharmacy, or call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at healthlink@nlh.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our NEW wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.