Two Ways to Prevent Medication Errors
According to one estimate, 1.5 million people were harmed by medication errors in 2011 alone, with 100,000 people dying as a result.
There are many types of medication errors committed by doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. These can include prescribing an inappropriate dosage or failing to check for allergies or interactions with other medications.
However, patients can help prevent doctors and pharmacists from making errors by asking questions or taking other simple steps.
The Mayo Clinic has some sound guidance for all of us as to how we can play an active role in helping our doctors avoid medication mistakes:
- Ask questions. When your doctor tells you that they are going to prescribe a medication for you, it is important that you educate yourself about what it is that you will soon be putting into your body. Ask your doctor about the medication, including these questions:
- What is the brand or generic name of the medication?
- What is it supposed to do? How long will it be until I see results?
- What is the dose? How long should I take it?
- Are there any foods, drinks, other medications or activities I should avoid while taking this medicine?
- What are the possible side effects? What should I do if they occur?
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
- What should I do if I accidentally take more than the recommended dose?
- Will this new medication interfere with my other medication(s) and how?
- Make sure your doctor knows the whole picture. Some of the biggest problems with prescription medication occur because of the interaction of multiple prescriptions. That is why you need to practice “medication reconciliation” with your doctor. Tell your doctor the following:
- The names of all medications you’re taking, including all prescription medications, herbs, vitamins, nutritional supplements, over-the-counter drugs, vaccines and anything received intravenously, including diagnostic and contrast agents, radioactive medications, feeding tube supplements and blood products
- Any medications that you’re allergic to or that have caused problems for you in the past
- Whether you have any chronic or serious health problems
- If you might be pregnant or you’re trying to become pregnant
At Greening Law, P.C. in Dallas, we help individuals and families who have suffered because of medication errors. If you have questions or concerns regarding misfiled prescriptions or other pharmaceutical errors, please give attorney Robert Greening a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.