School & Community News

Students creating “Using Medicine Safely” posters
April 4, 2013

April 2013…Students in several Healthy NewsWorks schools are participating in a “Using Medicine Safely” poster contest this month.

The contest encourages students to create original artwork illustrating one of the following topics:

  • Read and follow the directions on the medicine label.
  • Never share your medicine.
  • Always check that your name is on the medicine label.

Some resources that students can use to help design their posters are shown below.

Students can pick up entry forms in participating schools. They should be sure to review all contest rules before they submit their poster.

The poster contest is part of a Healthy NewsWorks prescription drug safety project funded by a grant from the American Medical Association Foundation.

Resources for the “Using Medicine Safely” poster contest

What’s on the label?

Medicine bottles and boxes have instructions to make sure the medicine is taken safely. Parents and guardians need to carefully read all the instructions and follow them. “Children should always know the name of their medicine and why they are taking it,” said Nancy Erickson, a school nurse for more than 20 years. “This safety step will make sure that the child is given the correct medicine.”

The following information is based on “A Youth Caregiver’s Guide to Medication Management” by Ashley Garringer.

A medicine label lists four pieces of information that children should know.

  1. Name of the person on the label says who should take the medicine. The doctor ordered the medicine specifically for this person. TIP: Only take a prescription medicine that has your name on the label. It can be harmful to take medicine that is not yours.
  2. Directions on how to take the medicine explains how much and how often medicine should be taken. Sometimes, the label includes special directions. For example, take medicine with water.
  3. Name of the medicine. It is important to make sure you know the name of the medicine that your doctor prescribed. It is also good to know the shape, size, and color of your medicine. TIP: Check the medicine label to make sure the name of the medicine is correct. Look at the shape and color of the medicine.
  4. Expiration date is when the medicine is out of date. Old medicines may not work as well. They may make a person sick. Do not keep or use medications after their expiration date.

How to take medicines safely

Medicines can play an important role in treating people when they are sick. Doctors usually are the medical professionals who write the instructions for prescription drugs. Pharmacists then use the instructions to fill the doctor’s orders. In a drugstore, the prescription drugs are located in a special area where the pharmacists work. Other medicines are located in the drugstore aisles. They are called over-the-counter drugs. All medicines need to be taken correctly, or they can be harmful.

Mrs. Erickson said students should only take medicine that’s given to them by a parent, a guardian, or a trusted adult who has the parent’s permission. Mrs. Erickson said children should follow these four rules before taking a medicine:

  1. Always check that your name is on the label.
  2. Know what your medicine looks like, including its color, size, and shape.
  3. Read the instructions to learn how much medicine you should take.
  4. Ask a parent or doctor if you have questions about your medicine.

The information below is from Medicines in My Home, written by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Children should:

  1. Make sure you know how your medicine is supposed to help you.
  2. Follow the directions on the label.
  3. Never use someone else’s prescription medicines. Children should never share their medicine.

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Since 2003, Healthy NewsWorks has been empowering elementary and middle school students to become researchers, writers, and confident communicators who advance health understanding and literacy through their factual publications and digital media.