Medication errors are among the most common types of medical malpractice. These types of mistakes can cause interactions with the other medications you are taking, severe allergic reactions, and other injuries. There are several things that you can do to reduce your chance of suffering harm from medication errors.

How Do Medication Errors Happen?

Medication errors can happen in several different ways. A doctor might fail to communicate with a patient or pharmacist and write a prescription for a drug that has a bad interaction with another medication the patient is taking. In hospitals, a nurse might fail to check that he or she is administering a drug to the right patient and give the patient medications that he or she was not prescribed.

Dosing errors are also common. Pharmacists might give patients medications in the wrong dosages. In some cases, they might mix up medications and give patients incorrect drugs. Some of these errors can happen when pharmacists are busy and do not take the time to verify the dosage and medications that doctors have prescribed. These types of errors can also occur when different medications have similar names or look the same.

Preventing Medication Errors

People can do several things to reduce the chance that they might be the victims of medication errors. You should keep an updated list of all of the medications you are currently taking. This list should include prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements. Different types of prescription drugs can interact with any of these substances. Bring your list with you to your medical appointments, and ask your doctor to review the list of medications in your medical record to make sure that they are the same.

Tell your doctor and other medical professionals about any allergies you have so that they can write them in your medical chart. This can help prevent you from being prescribed a drug that could cause an anaphylactic reaction. When your doctor prescribes a new medication to you, ask questions about it. Ask about its side effects, the proper dose, any interactions it has with other drugs, and the specific spelling of its generic and brand name. Write this information down.

When you go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription, compare what is on the bottle with the information you were told by your doctor to verify it is what your doctor prescribed and is in the right dose. Bring any errors to the pharmacist’s attention so they can be corrected.

Make sure to carefully review the drug information sheet that comes with your prescription. Double-check any interactions against the other medications you are taking. Follow any warning information about operating machinery or mixing the medication with certain foods or alcohol.

If you have a negative reaction to a medication, call your doctor and pharmacist. Bring the prescription bottle with you so that it can be verified. Do not stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first.

Medication errors cause many injuries and deaths each year. By taking appropriate steps and speaking up when a mistake has been made, you can help reduce your risk of harm.