4 simple tips for avoiding common medication errors

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People of all ages can be vulnerable to medication mistakes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 700,000 emergency room visits occur each year due to harmful drug errors.

Those taking medication can be prone to common mistakes such as missing or taking wrong doses, mixing up prescription medications of different names and confusing ear drops with eye drops. While such errors can occur due to a number of reasons, they are more likely to take place when there is poor communication between the patient and their doctor or pharmacist. Following some simple steps can help prevent dangerous medication errors.

• Ask questions. Medication labels and directions can be hard to understand. When talking to a pharmacist or doctor, find out when and how to take the drug, whether it is safe to take with other medication, and if it is likely to cause side effects. Being more proactive and involved with your health care by asking questions can help prevent errors.

• Stay organized. Many drugs are similar in name or appearance. Ensure medicines are organized by storing them in a pill dispenser or pillbox. If there are multiple medications, keeping them in their original labeled containers can also contribute to avoiding confusion.

• Use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions. Make sure your doctor’s handwriting is legible. If a patient is unable to read the prescription, the pharmacist is likely to have difficulty with it, too. When picking up medication from the pharmacy, check that it is the correct drug and matches the doctor’s prescription.

• Engage in medication reconciliation. The process involves comparing a current or updated list of both prescription and over-the-counter medications to what is already being taken. Medication lists should be reviewed regularly with health care providers to avoid errors.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

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