Ignoring medical labels 'could cost lives'

13th November 2013 - Fine Cut

A worrying number of people are failing to pay attention to labels and leaflets found on medications, which could be putting thousands of lives at risk.

This is according to new research from The Co-operative Pharmacy, which found nearly 50 per cent of men across the UK do not read important patient information before taking over-the-counter products.

On top of this, almost a third of males fail to pay attention to labels on prescription medications, leading pharmacists to argue that some consumers are playing Russian roulette with their health.

Ignoring this important information has several implications for members of the public, particularly those who do not notice warnings regarding drowsiness. Researchers found that 20 per cent of respondents admitted to driving or operating machinery when the label said to avoid these activities.

Commenting on the findings, which were published in the Yorkshire Evening Post, Janice Perkins - superintendent pharmacist at The Co-operative Pharmacy - said: "People should always read the patient information leaflet that comes with their medicine - whether it’s prescribed or not - as a number of medicines bought over the counter can contain potent ingredients that interact with other medication."

Failure to read labels could also lead to major errors, as some individuals said they had eaten suppositories and pessaries. Some people had also taken medicines orally that were meant to be inhaled, or tried to squirt the content of inhalers up their nose.

Clear and accurate medical labels are vital for ensuring the wellbeing of patients, but members of the public are also warned about the importance of consulting them before taking certain products.

In some cases, patients face putting their own life at risk if an over-the-counter medication contains products they are allergic to, or putting the safety of others under threat by climbing behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs that could make them drowsy.

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