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 PHILADELPHIA, March 31 /PRNewswire/ -- It is estimated that one death occurs every day in this country due to a medication error.
 Many factors contribute to medication errors, including poor communication, labeling and packaging similarities and the distractions caused by a busy healthcare environment.
 However, consumers can take action.
 William M. Ellis, registered pharmacist and executive director of The Center For Proper Medication Use, stated: "Consumers must take control of their healthcare, and it only takes a few simple steps to gain that control."
 The Center For Proper Medication Use, a non-profit organization founded by a group of concerned Pennsylvania hospital pharmacists in November 1991, has developed a list patients can use to avoid injuries that may result from medication errors.
 1. KNOW YOUR MEDICATIONS -- Know which medications you are taking and which conditions they are being used to treat. Pharmacists, physicians and nurses are the best sources of this information.
 2. QUESTION HEALTHCARE WORKERS WHEN YOU RECEIVE A MEDICATION WITH WHICH YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR -- When you are given a medication that appears different than the one you are used to taking, question the pharmacist, nurse or physician who is giving it to you. Sometimes the same medication may change in color, size or shape and sometimes a generic product may be dispensed; this generally is not a problem. By questioning a healthcare professional, you will be sure you are receiving the correct medication. Patients can ask hospital personnel simple questions, such as: "Is this the medication for my heart?" This is the most important action patients can take to avoid medication errors.
 3. DO NOT SHARE MEDICATIONS WITH FRIENDS OR FAMILY -- Today's medications are very potent and it is dangerous to assume that if a medication is effective for one person that it will work in another. In some instances such medication can result in a serious reaction. At the least, it may be ineffective in treating the medical problem.
 4. KEEP MEDICATIONS IN THEIR ORIGINAL CONTAINER -- Medications that are mixed in the same container can lead to confusion and potential overdoses. In the event of an emergency, unlabeled medications may be difficult for healthcare workers to identify.
 Patients who follow these steps greatly reduce the risk of misusing medication. In addition, they will become educated consumers of healthcare and be able to receive the maximum benefit from their medications.
 In the next 20 years, half of all medical advances will come from pharmaceutical research and development. The Center For Proper Medication Use said it believes that now, more than ever, patients must be active participants in any treatments which involve the use of medicine.
 The Center For Proper Medication Use is a publicly supported organization created to address, in a unified manner, the myriad of issues facing society regarding medication use. Those issues include the prevention of medication errors, cost containment, drug abuse, and treatment outcomes. In short, The Center For Proper Medication Use is a public advocate for the proper use of all medicines. The Center For Proper Medication Use consists of three discrete "centers" of excellence: Consumers' Medication Action Center, The Center for Drug Therapy Practices, and The Medication Use Research and Education Center.
 -0- 3/31/92
 /Editors: This topic will be the lead story on "Dateline NBC" airing tonight at 10 o'clock Eastern Time./
 /CONTACT: William M. Ellis, executive director of The Center For Proper Medication Use, 215-596-8997/ CO: The Center For Proper Medication Use ST: Pennsylvania IN: MTC SU:

CC-MK -- PHFNS1 -- 3194 03/31/92 07:32 EST
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Date:Mar 31, 1992

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