Serious drug interactions can happen with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, prescription meds, and even supplements. The interactions may occur not only with other drugs, but with certain foods and beverages as well.
Because of the risks and with so many new drugs constantly released to the market, it’s important to always consult a doctor or pharmacist when taking something new or if there are concerns about a potential dangerous drug interaction.
Types of Drug Interactions
Certain drugs do not mix well with other drugs. Your medication should contain a warning of all other medications – as well as other substances including some of those mentioned below – with which it should not be taken.
Below are some additional types of substances that might interact with a prescription medication:
- Alcohol: A lot of drugs shouldn’t be taken with alcohol. Examples include antihistamines, aspirin, corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory agents (i.e. ibuprofen), metronidazole, MAO inhibitors and OTC cold and cough medicines. In some cases it increases drowsiness, and in others may cause other serious side effects.
- Food: There are also certain foods that should be avoided with some medications, for example, those high in salt, which shouldn’t be taken with corticosteroids, vasodilators and antihypertensives.
- Sedatives: Sedatives in and of themselves can be powerful but mixing more than one drug that contains a sedative could be dangerous. For instance, methadone and anti-depressants.
- Supplements: Supplements include a variety of ingredients such as herbs, vitamins and minerals. Supplements may contain unknown ingredients that could cause a harmful reaction. Because supplements aren’t FDA-approved, it’s best to consult a doctor before taking them alone or with another medication.
- Over-the-Counter Medicines: Taking a prescription drug with an OTC medicine could result in a dangerous interaction. For instance, someone taking medication to treat high blood pressure should avoid oral nasal decongestants, as these can raise blood pressure.
Avoiding Dangerous Drug Interactions
The list of potential dangers is exhaustive. It can’t be said enough how important it is to consult with a doctor or pharmacist anytime a new drug is taken—regardless if it’s prescription, OTC or a supplement. The same is true if pregnant or nursing.
The following are additional tips that could prevent injury or illness from medications:
- read all drug information and directions before taking it;
- avoid alcohol while taking a drug (unless a doctor or pharmacist has indicated it’s safe);
- know why you are taking a drug;
- know if drug is safe to take with other medications;
- use one pharmacy, as the pharmacist is more likely to have a list of your medications and may be able to catch a mistake;
- always take recommended dosage (don’t take too much or too little);
- make sure the doctor knows all medications you take; and
- if in doubt, confused or concerned, ask questions.
This article features additional tips for avoiding a drug interaction.
Steps to Take If a Medical Professional is at Fault for a Drug Interaction
In some cases, a patient is harmed by a drug interaction that was the result of a medical professional’s negligence. It could be a doctor who prescribes a medication and doesn’t take into account another drug the patient is taking or the potential harmful effects on an unborn baby.
A pharmacist could mistakenly give someone the wrong drug, which causes a harmful interaction with another medicine or a nurse administers the wrong dosage, increasing an active ingredient that becomes dangerous with another drug.
Whatever the circumstance, patients may pursue a medical malpractice claim if the medical professional’s negligence causes serious harm. The claimant will need to prove that the medical professional owed a duty of care, in that the medical professional had an obligation to provide a reasonable standard of care to the patient.
But claimants must also prove that the medical professional breached the duty of care. The failure to provide a reasonable standard of care could be based on carelessness or recklessness (as shown through the aforementioned examples). Finally, there must be evidence that the patient suffered damages; for instance medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and mental anguish.
Discuss all of these factors and more with an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates. Call 800-550-0000 or visit our contact page to schedule a consultation so you can discuss the specifics of your own case.