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3 ways to avoid medication errors

A medication error might sound like a minor problem, but mistakes can cause serious injuries. If your health care provider makes a mistake when prescribing, dispensing or administering drugs, you could face significant health problems. While the core responsibility of avoiding these errors lies with your doctor or pharmacist, you can take some steps to reduce the chances too.

By taking an active role in your health care, you can avoid being the victim of a medication error. Here are some tips to reduce your risk of medication errors.

1. Ask questions

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, asking your doctor about your medicine is one of the best things you can do to avoid problems. Questions to ask include:

  • What is the generic or brand name of this medication?
  • What is the purpose of taking it?
  • Should I avoid any food, drinks or activities while taking it?
  • What are the potential side effects?
  • Will it interfere with other medications I am taking?

You should make sure you know the answers to these questions whenever you begin taking a new medicine. Knowledge is your best defense.

2. Provide complete and updated information

There can be surprising reactions between medications. Whenever you visit your doctor, make sure you provide the names of every medication you are taking. This not only includes prescription drugs but also vitamins, nutritional supplements, herbs, over-the-counter drugs and vaccines. By giving your health care provider a clear picture of your condition, you can avoid medication mistakes.

3. Take medications correctly

Avoid common mistakes when taking your medication, such as chewing a nonchewable pill. Some pills should never be chewed or crushed in any way. Never split your pills by cutting them unless your doctor or pharmacist has instructed you to do so. Do not use spoons from your silverware drawer to measure liquid medications.

Unfortunately, medication errors still occur despite best efforts by patients. If this happens to you, you might want to consider filing a medical malpractice claim.


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