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    Do Your Patients Know About Double Dosing?

    The problem affects thousands of people every year.


    Double dosing is a danger not only for patients who treat chronic pain with acetaminophen but for those who drink alcohol on a regular basis. “Drinking three or more alcoholic beverages per day while taking acetaminophen can increase the risk for liver damage,” said Polster. “The best advice is to abstain from drinking alcohol while taking any medication that contains acetaminophen.”  

    A few recommendations can help pharmacists reduce the incidence of double dosing. Patients should be advised to take only one medicine that contains the same active ingredient at a time, said Dunican.

    Patients should be instructed to keep to the recommended dose and track their medications. “It may be helpful to recommend that patients keep a log of all the medications they are taking, including prescriptions, OTC medications, vitamins, and supplements, and to note the time they took a dose, how much they took, and when they should take the next dose,” said Dunican.

    Related article: NSAIDs Linked to Increase in MI Risk

    “As always, encourage patients to call you or another health-care professional if they have questions,” said Dunican.  They should also be told to get medical help or call a poison control center if they think they have taken too much of any medication, she added.

    Reading labels can prevent double dosing. “It’s important to remind patients to check the active ingredients in their medication to avoid duplicating ingredients,” said Polster, who notes that Walgreens offers pharmacy chat function on their app or at Walgreens.com.

    “Adults should not ingest more than about two 650 mg tablets (or capsules) per day, over a several-day period, and children should receive no more than about 15 to 30 mg/kg day for several days,” said Litman. 

    Joan Vos MacDonald
    Joan Vos MacDonald is a freelance writer living in upstate New York.


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