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Do Your Patients Make This Common Mistake During Cold Season?

Do Your Patients Make This Common Mistake During Cold Season? by Elements magazine |

November 8, 2017

Now’s the time of year when sick patients scramble for over-the-counter (OTC) medicine to suppress annoying symptoms like congestion and coughing.

In their effort to get better, patients often take multiple OTC meds that contain the same active ingredients. Of the 1.5 million preventable medication errors each year, the most common is double dosing.

Many of the patients who double dose don’t realize they’re doing it. Or, they don’t realize it can harm them.

When you talk with your patients and front-end shoppers about the risks of cold and flu medicine, you can recommend the right OTC products to keep your patients safe and your business healthy during cold season.

Help your patients prevent double dosing during cold and flu season with these tips.

Instruct patients to follow the drug label

Many patients either misread or don’t read the label before they take their medicine.

More than 500,000 Americans misinterpret drug labels every year.

When patients don’t properly read the label, they risk doubling up on the same active ingredient or taking more than the proper dosage.

Remind patients to double check the active ingredients and the dosing instructions on their OTC medications before they take them. And inform them of the maximum dosage allowance.

These reminders are especially important during cold season.

Do a medication review

Help patients keep track of the active ingredients they take with a brown bag medication review.

When you review all of the medications they take, you can point out overlaps of active ingredients. Also, recommend patients keep a log of each medication they take.

Some patients may not know how to read a medication’s label.

Teach them how to read the active ingredients and directions or provide a handout that explains each part of the label.

Provide these brown bag medication reviews for free or at a discounted price throughout cold season.

Educate patients on common active ingredients

Not every patient checks drug labels. And many products contain multiple active ingredients, which makes it difficult to notice when they double up.

Make things easier and safer for your patients by educating them on the active ingredients common during flu and cold season.

For example, acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in the U.S. More than 600 OTC and prescription medicines contain acetaminophen.

Make sure patients know how common acetaminophen is. And tell them about the potentially harmful side effects. A little scare factor might encourage them to check drug labels more carefully.

And, acetaminophen isn’t the only ingredient patients need to look out for during cold season.

Here are some other common active ingredients in cold and flu products:


Make patients comfortable asking questions

Some patients may feel reluctant to ask the pharmacist about an OTC product.

The pharmacist typically counsels patients on prescription medications and it people can feel intimidated to “bother” them with a non-prescription question.

Encourage patients to ask your pharmacist for help with any OTC questions. Put a sign up that reads, “Questions about an OTC product? Ask your pharmacist!”

Recommend the right OTC products

Patients have so many options for alleviating their cold and flu symptoms.

Help them decide what products are the most effective for them.

Helping patients choose the appropriate product will encourage sales and give you an opportunity to educate them about the risks and active ingredients of the recommended products.

Consumer Reports compiled a list of the best OTC products for various illnesses. Provide this list to your patients as a handy reference.

Also, consider putting a “Pharmacist Recommended” sign in front of OTC products you prefer.

Help your patients with OTC cold medicine to keep them safe and to keep your pharmacy business healthy.


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