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Higher Education
University of Texas Medical Center
News Release
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Give the gift of medicine safety this Father’s Day  

GALVESTON — Tired of giving ties or cologne to Dad? One of the best gifts you can give this Father’s Day is to talk to him about medicine safety.  Data from the American Association of Poison Centers show that adults 40 and older make up 16 percent of poisoning exposure calls to poison centers; however, they account for 56 percent of deaths from poisoning.

“Poison centers serve people of all ages, not just children,” said Jon Thompson, director of the Southeast Texas Poison Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “One in 10 older adults has experienced a poisoning in the home, most frequently from taking the wrong type of medication.”

The following are examples of actual calls to poison control centers:

  • An older man thought he was putting eye drops into his eye, but realized too late that it was actually glue. It was dark, and he was not wearing his glasses.
  • An elderly couple had matching pill dispensers. When his wife was away, the 74-year-old gentleman was confused as to which dispenser was his, and he took his wife’s medicine by mistake.
  • A 54-year-old man with a heart condition was supposed to take five prednisone for a bout with poison ivy. The prednisone pills look like his heart medication. He accidentally took five heart medication pills.

“Medication mistakes happen in all age groups,” Thompson says. “All medications should be handled with care, regardless of the patient’s age.”

Encourage your father (and mother) to follow these medication safety tips:

·         Know about each medicine you take (name, color, markings, dosage, etc.).

·         Put on your glasses and turn on the lights before taking medicine, especially at night.

·         Read the label to make sure you are taking the right dose.

·         Follow the instructions to take your medicine the right way. Some medicines interact with food or alcohol, and some should not be taken with other medications.

·         Never take someone else’s medicine.

·         Keep a list of all your medications and share the list with your doctor at each visit.

·         If more than one doctor prescribes medicine for you, talk to each doctor and your pharmacist so they can check for drug interactions.

·         Talk to your doctor before you take a natural or herbal supplement.

 “Keep the poison center number posted in a visible place, like your refrigerator or medicine cabinet,” Thompson says. “Program it into your family members’ cell phones and post it by their home telephone. Remind them to call 1-800-222-1222 right away if they take medicine incorrectly and not to wait for symptoms to appear.”

Information on medication safety can be found on The Southeast Texas Poison Center website at www.utmb.edu/setpc or at www.poisoncontrol.org. You can request educational materials and public presentations at these websites. Poison centers offer free, private, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Southeast Texas Poison Center
The Southeast Texas Poison Center, located on the campus of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, is a 24-hour poison information and emergency treatment resource for the public and health care professionals in 28 counties in southeast Texas. Calling 1-800-222-1222 is a free confidential service. The SETPC  is one of a network of six regional centers established by the Texas Legislature to provide prevention and emergency treatment information to Texas residents and healthcare providers concerning poisonings or toxic exposures.




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