Preventing Medication Errors
Medication can literally be a lifesaver. It can cure viruses, treat cancer and mental illness among many other conditions. Despite the potential benefits, they can also negatively impact people when not used the right way. Mistakes prescribing, dispensing, and giving medications injure hundreds of thousands of people each year. However, medication errors are preventable.
What Are Medication Errors?
Medication errors occur due to inappropriate use. A medication error that causes harm is referred to as a “preventable adverse drug event.” A medication error that occurs but does not cause harm is considered a “potential adverse drug event.” Medical professionals have years of education in order to acquire a deep knowledge of how medications work by themselves and in conjunction with other prescriptions.
For example, if someone is taking Tylenol, which contains acetaminophen, but is then prescribed a prescription pain medication that also contains the same, it could put them at increased risk of liver damage due to the consumption of more than the recommended dose of acetaminophen.
The most common causes of medication errors include:
- Poor communication with your doctor
- Poor communication between your doctors
- Medical abbreviations
- Drugs names that sound alike and those that look alike
Children are often at a heightened risk of medication errors, as they usually require different doses of most drugs than adults.
What Can You Do?
Since a good offense is the best defense, one critical thing that you can do to minimize risks is to educate yourself. Your doctor is available to answer any questions you may have. Whenever you begin taking a new medication, be sure to ask a lot of questions, including the following:
- What is the brand/generic name of the medication?
- What is the dose?
- How long should I take it?
- What is the medication supposed to do?
- What if I miss a dose?
- What if I take more than the recommended dose?
- Should I refrain from any particular foods, drinks, supplements, medications, or exercise while taking the medication?
- What are the potential side effects?
- How could this medication interfere with my current medications?
Additionally, by using a computer to enter and print/forward any prescription details, your doctor can also help to prevent medication errors.
Another thing that you should do in order to prevent medication errors is medication reconciliation. This means that you should always share your most up-to-date medical information with your providers. This includes:
- The name and strength of all medications and supplements
- Medications that you are allergic to or have had any issues with
- Any chronic or serious health issues
- If you are pregnant are or are trying to become pregnant
Finally, be sure to follow these safe medication tips:
- Maintain an up-to-date list of all medications and supplements
- Store all medications and supplements in their original containers
- Organize your medications using a pillbox or automatic dispenser
- Use the same pharmacy for all medications
- Save the information sheets that come with your medications
- Double-check to ensure that you receive the right prescription when picking it up
- Never give or take prescriptions to or from others
Graves McLain Can Help.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a medication error, call Graves McLain at 918-359-6600 or fill out a free consultation form online. When you call, one of our experienced Dangerous Drug Attorneys will speak with you for FREE—and determine the best course of action.
We review every detail of your situation at no cost to you—and fight hard to protect your rights. Trust our team, we are here to help. At Graves McLain, you will never pay an attorney’s fee upfront—and you owe us nothing until we win your case.
Graves McLain, Serious Lawyers For Serious Injuries.