Medicine mistakes are common, can be serious

Introducing 'Alaska Med Ed'

Most Americans – 75 percent! – don't take their medicine as directed. Forgetting pills, taking them at the wrong time of the day, not filling a prescription because of cost or inconvenience – all these can take a serious toll on people's health – and wallets, if they end up in the doctor's office or hospital.

People of all ages make medicine mistakes, but the chances go up the more prescriptions a person takes. So seniors, who often take several prescriptions, have to take special care.

I'm Lana Bell, a state pharmacist with the Pioneer Homes. I've been filling prescriptions for 26 years, and I know how hard it can be to follow all the directions for a set of medications. Believe me, I really sympathize.

Over the next year, I'll write about various common problems that people encounter as they try to stick to their prescriptions, and ways to head those problems off at the pass.

My columns are part of a campaign by the state of Alaska to build awareness of these common challenges, and share solutions from health care professionals and regular Alaskans.

Another part of the campaign is the Alaska Medication Education (Alaska Med Ed) website and class. You may have seen an Alaska Med Ed ad on TV, or heard one on the radio, last month.

The website shares tips and tricks from Alaskans on remembering their medications and cutting down the number of medicines they take, and more. There's even a quiz you can take to check how you're doing with your medications.

The website also has a class that you can take online. It shares the story of Mrs. Nelson, a (fictional) woman who makes some common medicine mistakes, talks about resulting problems, and how to avoid them.

The bottom line of the website, class and these columns is that you are the key to making your health care work – from prescriptions to office visits. We'll talk more about that next time.

In the meantime, I hope you'll visit and explore the Alaska Med Ed website at Or you can do a web search on Alaska Med Ed, and it should come right up. There's an email address on the site, so please feel free to drop us a line and let us know if you have any questions or concerns or feedback on what we've put together for you.

Lana Bell is a state pharmacist for the Alaska Pioneers' Homes. Her Med Ed column will appear monthly in Senior Voice.

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