Preventing Your Loved Ones From Popping the Wrong Pill


Contributor-Icons_Ryan-HoweWe’ve all read tragic stories of famous people having deadly encounters with prescription drugs. Some recent ones that come to mind are Heath Ledger, Brittany Murphy, Michael Jackson, and Ana Nicole Smith. Like me, you may have thought how sad it is for someone so successful to have an addiction.

We make these assumptions without really understanding the facts. In some cases it may have been abuse of prescription drugs, while in others it may have been an accident. We will probably never know, but the latter is more common and less publicized than you may think.

15% of older adults are at potential risk of having a major drug-to-drug interaction, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  

Preventing Your Loved Ones From Popping the Wrong Pill

Much of the recent concern stems from the huge quantity of pills seniors have to keep track of taking every day.

  • 51% of people 65 and older who use medication are taking at least five different prescription drugs regularly.
  • One in four takes between 10 and 19 pills each day, according to a national survey by Kelton Global.
  • It’s not so much “popping the wrong pill” as it is popping the right pill with the wrong prescription drug or supplement.

How You Can Help

So what can you do to keep your loved ones from becoming a statistic? These two steps can significantly reduce the chances of an accident occurring:

  • Have a system in place to organize the pills.
    Pick one day of the week to compartmentalize all of the pills for the week in the appropriate day and time sections.

A good organizer, like the Lumex Pill Organizer, can be a lifesaver. You want an organizer that has compartments for morning, noon, evening, and bedtime to accommodate the most likely times a certain pill should be taken; you also want an organizer that has compartments for each day of the week that can be removed and transported. This prevents missing a pill because there was no good way of carrying the medication along for the day.


I’ve seen women fumbling in their purses through a hodgepodge of pills at the bottom, hoping to find the right one.

Having a good system in place will help prevent your loved one from taking a pill at the wrong time that could have a deadly interaction with another pill.

  • Make sure your doctor is aware of ALL medications and dietary supplements being taken.
    Many people don’t realize that over-the-counter supplements can be very dangerous if mixed with certain prescription drugs. For example, Ginkgo Biloba, often taken as a memory aid, can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinners.
A good organizer, like the Lumex Pill Organizer, can be a lifesaver.

A good organizer, like the Lumex Pill Organizer, can be a lifesaver.

Dietary supplements are not required to list interaction warnings on their labels, so it is up to you and your doctor to make sure there isn’t any potential harm. Unfortunately, only 28% of people taking supplements and prescription drugs together check this with their doctor, according to a 2013 Consumer Reports survey.

Performing these two easy steps can help prevent you or your loved ones from making a harmful mistake.

Sources: Consumer Reports, JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), Kelton Global

Contact us for more ideas and advice.


Ryan Howe is a Product Manager & Celebrity Reporter at Graham-Field.

About GF Health Products, Inc.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 300 US-based employees, GF Health Products, Inc. is a major manufacturer of healthcare products for the acute care, extended care, homecare and primary care markets. The Graham-Field family of brands includes Basic American Medical Products, Everest & Jennings, Grafco, Hausted, John Bunn, Labtron, Lumex and Lumiscope. Visit www.grahamfield.com or call 770-368-4700.