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Tips for Reducing Your Risk of a Prescription Error

tips for reducing medication/ prescription errorIn any given week, four out of five adults will use prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs, or dietary or herbal settlements in the United States. Nearly a third of adults take five or more different medications, and it’s estimated that nearly half of the population used at least one prescription drug in the last 30 days. With so many Americans frequently consuming medication, mistakes in prescription and consumption remain a prevalent healthcare issue.

Still, medication error is preventable. Here are a few tips to keep in mind that will help protect you and your loved ones from injury or death.

What Are Medication Errors?

A medication error is defined by the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer.”

For example, if you take Tylenol in addition to another pain medication that also includes acetaminophen, you’re potentially taking more than the recommended dose, putting yourself at risk of liver damage.

Mistakes when prescribing, dispensing, and giving medication injure thousands of Americans each year and can cause hospitalization, disability, birth defects, and even death. These are often easy mistakes to make, which is why it’s so important to consider how you can prevent something similar from happening to you or a loved one.

How Do Medication Errors Happen?

There are many reasons why medication errors occur, and they can be a result of a mistake on the part of the patient, doctor, pharmacist, caregiver, or family member. Here are just a few of the common causes of medication error:

  • Poor communication amongst your doctors
  • Poor communication between you and your healthcare professional
  • Confusing drug names and medications that sound similar
  • Medical abbreviations

How Can You Prevent Medication Errors?

Though the ill effects of medication error can be scary, preventing such a mistake is often a matter of following a few simple steps. First and most importantly, it’s vital that you ask questions. When your doctor prescribes your medication and dosage, it can often be confusing to understand. Don’t hesitate to ask for an explanation. Knowledge is your best defense against medication. Here are a few questions you may consider asking your doctor:

  • What is the brand name of this medication?
  • What is its dose?
  • What are the effects of this medication?
  • What should I do if I unintentionally take more than the prescribed amount?
  • What are the side effects?
  • Should I plan to avoid other medication at the same time?
  • Are there any foods, drinks, or strenuous activities that I should avoid?

After you’ve asked a medical professional the appropriate questions, consider the following safeguards so you’re certain to avoid medication error.

 

  • Print your medication, rather than handwriting it: We all know the adage that a doctor always has terrible handwriting—it’s not uncommon for that to be true! If you have trouble reading your doctor’s handwriting (or even your own), ask if it can be entered into a computer and printed instead.
  • Always double- and triple-check the label: A medical label can often be complicated and unclear, so be aware of a few of the common pitfalls. Don’t assume that a pill is meant to be chewed or swallowed—breaking down a pill can change how it’s absorbed by the body—so ask your doctor to explain how you should proceed. If a medication says “otic,” it’s for the ears, and if it says “ophthalmic,” it’s for the eyes. The spoons in your silverware drawer aren’t measuring spoons, so always use the dose cup or syringe that came with the medication.
  • Create good habits: Having an up-to-date list for each of your medications and prescription drugs can be life-changing. Likewise, using a monthly calendar will not only help you organize and consolidate, but it can prevent a medication error.
  • Store your medication properly: Your medication should always be labeled and stored in a pillbox, and don’t ever take someone else’s medication.

 

Kids are often more susceptible to medication error as they require different doses than adults, so important to keep that in mind.

Contact the Medical Malpractice Lawyers and Dalli and Marino

If you or a loved one is facing injury from a medication error and you think someone else may be at fault, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Dalli and Marino. We’re a group of experienced lawyers who understand New York-specific regulations and government healthcare. Our verdicts and settlements have recovered millions of dollars for our clients since 1996. 

Our team of highly-skilled trial attorneys approach each case on an individual basis and are dedicated to helping you recover the money you deserve to compensate for your injury. Give us a call at (516) 292-4700 or complete our contact form today.