How to Avoid Medication Errors

By September 24, 2014Drug Safety

While medications are prescribed to patients every day in an effort to relieve symptoms and cure illnesses, prescription drug errors sometimes cause more harm than good. As a patient, it is crucial that you aid your healthcare team in preventing medication errors by being informed and aware.

Inform Your Physicians

The best way to prevent negative interactions between the medications you take is to ensure that your doctors are aware of all the prescriptions. Make a list of each medication, the dosage, and the frequency you take it. Take a copy of this list with you to each doctor’s appointment and ask the doctor to place it in your file. Include over-the-counter medications and supplements like herbs and vitamins, as they can become the culprits responsible for medication complications.

Many doctors request that patients bring their medications with them to appointments. Even if your doctor does not ask you to do this, bring them along anyway to enable your doctor to assess your medication regimen.

Allergic reactions account for numerous medication errors. Always inform each doctor of your any allergies. Your doctor can then act as the gatekeeper who protects you from unnecessary allergic reactions. Provide your pharmacy with the same information so they can act as a backup and catch any errors that make it past your doctor.

Use One Pharmacy

To ensure that your pharmacist is able to catch potential drug interactions, have each prescription filled at the same pharmacy. This increases the odds that your pharmacist will quickly be alerted to any problems. When you have prescriptions filled at more than one store, it is impossible for the pharmacy to know about all of the drugs you are taking.

Educate Yourself

When your doctor prescribes medications for you, ensure that you understand the purpose of each medication. Ask questions and read the papers your doctor gives you when you leave the office. Read all the inserts that come with your prescriptions as well. While many people toss these papers in the trash, smart patients read the inserts to become informed about the proper way to take the medication and learn about possible side effects.

Measure Your Dose

Many medication errors occur due to improper dosing, particularly when it comes to liquid medicine. Teaspoons that we use at home for meals measure differently than marked teaspoons used for medication. Anytime you receive liquid medication, ask your pharmacy to provide you with the proper measuring implement. Never split pills in half without first checking with your pharmacist. While some pills can be divided safely, others cannot.

Watch Expiration Dates

Both prescription and over-the-counter medications contain expiration dates after which you should discard the medication. Some medications increase in strength as they age, while others lose potency. To prevent potential problems, watch the dates and dispose of medication that is past its expiration date.

While your medicine is intended to help you heal, medication errors can cause serious or fatal harm. By taking the proper precautions, you can increase the odds that medication errors never happen to you.

Contact Us

The attorneys at Carey, Danis & Lowe stand ready to help you deal with medication errors that occur because of someone’s negligence. This could be a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Call Carey, Danis & Lowe today to learn more about your options.

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