"More and more, it seems to be occurring just in the average person, in the community setting, rural and urban setting," said Michael Koncilja, a pharmacist with Rochester General Hospital.
In fact, according to a new study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, there's been a 360% increase in fatal medication mixes at home over the last 20 years. Many happened between prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
"These are big problems and people need to be aware of this," said Koncilja. "St. John's Wort was really big, kava kava root - these were really big agents a few years ago, and they in fact had interactions with prescriptions."
Koncilja said these kinds of errors can be easily avoided - starting with your own pharmacy.
- Stick to one pharmacy.
"You have a profile at that pharmacy, and they will have a full record of everything you're taking, and they will be the best to be aware of interactions."
- Store your prescriptions in a safe place.
"It might not be feasible to lock up your medications, but to at least have it secured where it is not out in the open, not in the main medicine cabinet in your bathroom per se."
- Get rid of them when you no longer need them.
"I've seen a lot more in high schools, and younger people who are aware of these trade names and aware of these medications, having leftover narcotic medications could be dangerous."
- When you dispose of presciptions, do it properly.
"Take it out of the vial, mix it with coffee grinds, cat litter, household waste and then put it in a separate bag and then just throw it in with your regular trash."
For more information, you can call the Rochester General Hospital information line, anytime at (585) 922-LINK.