Medication Safety Week: nurse advocates for proper use and disposal of prescription drugs

ORLANDO, Fla. — Each year as many as 9,000 Americans die because of a medication error, according to the National Institutes of Health.

This week is medication safety week and Channel 9 spoke to a nurse who wants to make sure that your prescription drugs are helping, not hurting you.

“There are medications that are altered when they are hit by light, especially sunlight, so dark, cool places, out of the reach of children... Where they can’t reach it,” said registered nurse, Meg Harrell.


While most of us know the basics about how to take our meds, believe it or not, even healthy foods can interact badly with some prescriptions.

“If you’re taking a certain type of blood thinner you shouldn’t be eating too many greens or leafy vegetables with vitamin K,” Harrell said. “There are also certain medications for blood pressure that are affected by certain citrus juices and grapefruit that you shouldn’t be mixing together.”

Not only is prescription drug misuse dangerous, but it’s also costly. According to the National Institutes of Health, the total cost of looking after patients with medication-associated errors exceeds $40 billion each year.

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“I think it’s a lack of education rather than a lack of resources,” Harrell said.

If both healthcare workers and patients know how to properly take, store and dispose of medications, it’ll save lives.

Also, disposing of medication that you no longer need or is expired, is as easy as going online.

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“You can contact the DEA and put in your zip code, and they will show you disposal sites within 5-10 miles from you that are open all year round,” Harrell added.

Harrell said another by-product of medication errors, is a lack of trust in healthcare systems.

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