Show aides safe and proper storage of medications

Make sure your aides and patients know that heat and light can damage some medicines, and outdated medicine can be unsafe for patients. Give them these safety and storage guidelines developed by Olsten Kimberly Quality Care of East Lansing, MI:

1. Store all medications in a special location in the home, such as a section of one cupboard. Consider the safest and most reasonable place. This will vary from home to home.

2. Some medications, such as suppositories, must be stored in the refrigerator. Keep them separate from food.

3. Too much heat will destroy the effectiveness of some drugs; example: aspirin generally should be stored in a cool, dry, dark location.

4. All medications must be kept in closed containers, and be clearly and properly labeled. Keep medications in their original containers so they are not confused with other medications.

5. Unused or old medications should be thrown away. Medications may be flushed down the toilet, (although, some medications may discolor the porcelain) or put down the garbage disposer.

6. Date all nonprescription medications when they are received, and review all dates every few months — throwing away those that have expired.

7. Always read the label carefully before taking medication or setting up medication in a pill box.

8. Do not ever "double up" on medications without your doctor’s permission.

9. If taking medication via a syringe, be extremely careful to draw up the correct amount. If vision is poor, have someone else draw up the medication.

10. Always dispose of syringes properly after use. Example: seal it in a clear plastic milk jug.

The following are special considerations and other information about medications:

• Nonprescription (over-the-counter) tablets will generally last a year if stored in a cool, dry place.

• If aspirin-type medications become crumbly or develop a vinegar-like smell, they must be thrown away.

• Liquid medications should not be exposed to heat, which can cause fermentation.

• Lotions, such as calamine, should be thrown out as soon as they change in any way; i.e., color and consistency.

• Some medications must be taken with food to prevent irritations. Examples: pain medications, anti-arthritic.

• Some medications tend to build up in the body after repeated doses. Example: heart pills, steroids.

• Some medications go through the body slowly, and others go through quickly.

• When a medication is taken orally and swallowed, it travels to the stomach where it breaks up and is then absorbed into the blood stream. Then the medication is distributed to the brain centers and other body parts. After a while it is excreted in the urine.

• If a medication is administered through a syringe, it goes directly into the blood stream. It is distributed through the blood stream to the brain centers and other body parts. Example: insulin.