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Tips to prevent medication overdoses

The Minnesota Poison Control System and Minnesota Commissioner of Health, Dr. Edward Ehlinger, reminded Minnesotans medications can be helpful, but must be used with care.

The Minnesota Poison Control System and Minnesota Commissioner of Health, Dr. Edward Ehlinger, reminded Minnesotans medications can be helpful, but must be used with care.

"Poisonings can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone," Dr. Jon Cole, medical director of the Poison Center, said in a news release. "(O)ver half of the poison exposures recorded in Minnesota last year were related to medications."

Ehlinger noted drug-related overdoses have been an issue over the past several years, with 572 deaths occurring in Minnesota in 2015.

"Many of these deaths were due to prescription medications rather than illegal street drugs. The fact that this epidemic is not slowing down shows just how important it is to increase awareness of this problem during National Poison Prevention Week," Ehlinger said. "Health care providers have a responsibility to educate patients about the benefits and risks of any medications. This is especially important in light of rising opioid overdose deaths."

While much needs to be done to stop this epidemic, individuals can still make some simple changes, the release said. The Minnesota Poison Control System offers these tips for safe medication use, storage, and disposal:

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โ€ข Take medications carefully by following label instructions and having your pharmacist or doctor check for potential interactions between prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medicines.

โ€ข Keep all medications up high and out of sight, preferably locked up.

โ€ข Do not share medications with friends or family members, even if they have been prescribed the same type of medication.

โ€ข Never take medication in front of children, as they are likely to mimic.

โ€ข Properly dispose of medications. Contact county government for disposal options.

โ€ข Educate yourself: Learn about poison prevention and Poison Center services. Take the new online training course available at training.mnpoison.org.

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