Surely everyone knows how to use their medicines exactly as advised, and complies with all the instructions?! I clearly remember thinking this during my pharmacy undergraduate studies when the lecturers talked about people misusing their medicines. Why would anyone not comply? But as soon as I was ‘in the real world’, working in community pharmacies, I realised that no – people DON’T always use their medications safely, or as intended.
My entry to the University of Otago’s recent ‘Bake Your Thesis’ competition shows the ‘wave of pills’ out there that is causing harm to people in the community. My research examines this ‘wave’ in detail, to try and identify the particular medications most responsible for causing the damage. The pills on the cake form a symbol for emergency medical help.
One cause for concern and source of ill health is poisonings. The majority of poisonings or overdoses with medicines occur as a result of a simple mistake or an unintentional error in judgment (“Oh, I thought it would be fine to just take two extra pills!”). But about two-thirds of poisonings that lead to a presentation at an Emergency Department (ED) are caused by intentional decisions to take too much. There are many reasons why someone may overdose on purpose.