Medication Errors, and How To Prevent Them

You depend on your doctor and pharmacist to help you feel better, not inadvertently make your condition worse. Unfortunately, medication errors can happen through a combination of factors. What’s worse is the fact that some errors can lead to a patient’s death. Learn how medication errors happen in the first place, and what you can do to prevent them.

How Medication Errors Happen

Medication errors happen for a number of reasons. For instance, poor communication between patient, doctor, nurse, or pharmacist can lead to a doctor prescribing the incorrect medication, or the incorrect dose for the correct medication. There are also times when a patient is moved to another facility, but all of her or his medical information is not properly transferred. For instance, a patient’s test results may not be properly communicated for one reason or another.

Medical malpractice that involves medication is also the result of human error. A specimen could be labeled incorrectly, or a specific procedure may not be properly followed as the result of negligence. Some medical professionals may not have all the information and facts necessary to make an accurate or timely patient diagnosis.

Problems related to patients also play a part in medication errors. For instance, a patient may be inadequately assessed by a medical professional, or patients can be misidentified and given the wrong medication. Some healthcare professionals fail to get proper consent from patients before administering medication.

What You Can Do To Prevent Medication Errors

There are steps to take to better ensure you do not become a victim of a medication error. For instance, do not hesitate to ask questions if you do not understand how to properly take your medication, and there is nothing wrong with doubling checking with your pharmacist to ensure she or he gives you the correct medication written on your prescription.

Double-check the dose you should take, when you should take it, and what to do if you miss a dose. Be sure to let your doctor and pharmacist know if you take other medications or supplements, even if it’s just a daily vitamin. Read over the instructions for your medication, asking questions about anything you don’t understand.

Looking into medication reconciliation is another good idea. It’s a process designed to keep patients from missing medication, experiencing drug interactions, taking duplicate medications, and experiencing dosing errors. Reconciliation is a good idea when you take a new prescription, or when your current medication errors are changed. Additional scenarios are when you are admitted or discharged from a facility, or when you receive a different level of medical care.

If you take a lot of medications, be sure to keep a list of their brand and generic names, your current dosage, and your dosage schedule. Let your new physician know if you are allergic (or suspect you could be allergic) to any medications.

In regards to taking medication, one mistake some patients make is confusing an eardrop for an eyedrop. It’s also not unusual for a patient to chew, crush, or cut a pill that should only be swallowed. Medication has to be absorbed in a certain way, and changing how it’s taken can change the absorption.

A majority of medication errors are preventable. Hopefully, these tips will help you improve your health, rather than endanger it.