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Dangers of medicine abuse

A member has reported two incidents highlighting the dangers of the inappropriate use of prescribed medicine. On two different offshore vessels personnel took prescription medication that was not prescribed for them.

One of the cases was thought to be life threatening and required emergency medical evacuation by helicopter. In addition to the medical risk to the patient there was also unnecessary risk to the medical crew and significant cost incurred for the medical evacuation and onshore support.

The second case was managed by onboard medical personnel.

Both cases were considered to be unsafe acts and violations of the company’s drug and alcohol policy and, as such, grounds for disciplinary proceedings possibly leading to dismissal.

The following lessons can be drawn from the incidents:

  • Personnel should always report to the site medic any prescribed medications as well as ‘over the counter’ (non-prescription) medications being used while at work;
  • Always follow dosage instructions on all prescribed and ‘over the counter’ (non-prescription) medications;
  • All warnings related to potential food interactions and interactions with other drugs should be fully heeded;
  • Never share medication prescribed for you or another person and never accept prescribed medication from another person.

Safety Event

Published: 16 January 2009
Download: IMCA SF 01/09

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