All medication errors are preventable. One-hundred percent of them. But medication errors are one of the most common types of mistakes made in medicine. They harm at least 1.5 million people in the United States and cost hospitals $3.5 billion annually, not including victims’ lost wages and additional healthcare costs, reports The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).
If you are taking prescription medications or are considering a new treatment, make sure you understand the risks of that medicine. And follow the basic safety tips we outline here to reduce your risks of prescription medication mistakes and related injuries.
What are some common prescription errors I should be mindful of?
“Medication mishaps can occur anywhere in the distribution system: prescribing, repackaging, dispensing, administering, or monitoring,” explains the FDA. Many mistakes are the result of poor communication, misunderstanding the directions of use, and ambiguities in the names of the drugs or in the doctors’ writing.
Some of the most common prescription-related errors include the following:
- Prescribing the wrong medication
- Prescribing medication in the wrong dosage
- Prescribing a duplicate or a contraindicated medication (one the patient should not take)
- Administering medication using the wrong route
How can I reduce my risk of prescription error-related injuries?
The more proactive you are in your healthcare and treatments, the more likely you will be to prevent errors or at least catch any mistake before they wind up seriously harming you.
Here are some tips to cut your risks:
- Inform pharmacist/doctor of all the medications and supplements you take, including over-the-counter drugs and natural health supplements. Certain drugs and supplements adversely interact with others.
- Confirm name of the medication and dosage with both the doctor and the pharmacist.
- Speak up if something feels wrong or if you do not know why you need the medicine. There is no harm in asking a few questions for clarity and it just might prevent you from taking the wrong medicine.
- Take the prescription exactly as prescribed.
- Read up on potential side effects of the drug and contact your doctor if you experience any weird or serious effects after beginning your treatment.
- Weigh the risks and benefits of each drug you take. Consult your doctor and pharmacist and choose only that which you feel is necessary and affords you the most benefits.
Be sure to check out our 10 tips for staying safe in the hospital, too.
What do I do if a medication mistake caused me harm?
Contact your health care provider to discuss your symptoms straightway if something is wrong with your prescription or you experience side effects. If you sustained serious effects due to a mistake in your treatment, you might also want to look into your legal options.
You are welcomed to call us at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault Co., L.P.A. for a free consultation to discuss possibilities of obtaining compensation for your injuries. We help injured patients in Ohio and Michigan. Call us today at 567-455-5470.