Prescription medications can be powerful healing agents. However, if they are abused, they can lead to death. The Institute of Medicine estimated 400,000 medication problems happen nationwide. Unfortunately, many of those fatalities happen from accidental overdoses.
Alabama's medical community has a prescription drug monitoring program. It requires any physician, who prescribes certain controlled substances, to report it in that database. This keeps patients from "doctor shopping", and makes it easier for law enforcement to investigate cases of abuse.
However, many times medication problems occur when elderly patients either forget or mix their medicine. Corey Kirkland from Houston County's Health Department explained how to avoid those mistakes.
"Keep a good record or list of what you're taking. Always talk to your doctor about prescriptions that you're using so that he's aware of what you have and he's not over-prescribing something for you,” explained Kirkland.
Also, doctors urge patients to never share their medications with someone who is not prescribed to them. If you have leftovers from a surgery or other health issue, call your doctor to learn how to dispose of them.
In addition, Flowers Hospital is making a push to fight prescription medication overdose. It has an electronic scanning system to check patients’ wristbands before administering medications. News 4 will have extended coverage on their system, Thursday, on News 4 at 10.