What Can Patients Do to Avoid Medication Errors?
Readers of our blog know that medication errors have serious or fatal consequences for patients. Ironically, the very medications we use to treat our health conditions can, under the right circumstances, become a threat to our lives.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, about one-third of adults in the US are prescribed medications, so it is important to know how to avoid medication errors.
Communicate with doctors and pharmacists: Communication is an important aspect of avoiding medication errors. If you are unsure about dosages, the names of medications or possible side effects, ask your doctor. Make sure you communicate your medical history effectively to avoid possible adverse reactions or allergies (such as current or past medications and health conditions). Pharmacies will offer to speak with patients about proper usage and possible side effects, so do not pass this opportunity up when picking up prescriptions.
Separate medications in labeled pillboxes: Properly labeled pillboxes or dispensers can help avoid medication errors. Be sure to regularly update this information each time medications or health care providers change.
Double check for errors: After speaking with healthcare providers, there are additional steps that can be taken to avoid errors. The National Library of Medicine, operated by the National Institutes of Health, operates pillbox.gov, a website with photographic and detailed information on medications sold in the US. Users can type in letters or numbers found on medications, in addition to the shape, color, size and name to double check information.
Are You at Risk for Medication Errors?
Some patients are more at risk for succumbing to medication errors than others. Patients with multiple prescriptions, or who take medications that look or sound alike, should be the most cautious. Communication with doctors and pharmacists, staying organized and double checking for mistakes can help reduce your risk of being affected by medication errors.
The Tampa Bay medical malpractice attorneys at Shapiro Law Group are dedicated to fighting for patients who have been affected by hospital negligence.