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How can you protect yourself from medication errors? - II

Last time, we began discussing how serious medication errors -- wrong drug, wrong dosage, etc. -- can take place in locations other than just pharmacies and hospitals, including your local doctor's office. We also started discussing the steps that patients can take to avoid becoming victimized by this all too common form of medical malpractice.

In today's post, we'll continue this discussion ...

Is there anything patients do to protect themselves from medication errors besides just asking their physician informed questions?

As we stated earlier, the key to patients keeping themselves safe is becoming more proactive regarding medication management. While this means listening carefully and asking pointed questions, it also means taking part in an important process known as medication reconciliation.

This involves the doctor comparing his or her current medication order with all other medications you are now taking and discussing any other pertinent medical issues (chronic/serious health conditions, allergies, etc.).

Expert say that this simple process, which should be performed whenever new prescriptions are written or existing medications refilled, can help drastically reduce medication errors such as duplications, wrong drug, omissions or drug interactions.

Is it just current prescriptions that need to be discussed during the medication reconciliation?

No. Experts indicate that it's important to inform the doctor of everything you are currently taking on a regular basis, such as nutritional supplements, vitamins, herbs, over-the-counter drugs, etc. This step can help prevent possible dangerous drug interactions.

Is there anything patients can do outside of the doctor's office to protect themselves from prescription errors?

Patients can keep themselves safe by following these simple safety tips offered by experts:

  • Double check medications after picking them up at the pharmacy to ensure they are the correct drug, dosage, etc.
  • Use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions and save the information sheets that accompany each.
  • Keep medications stored in their original bottles or organized in a pillbox/automatic pill dispenser.
  • Ensure that you are measuring liquid medications properly, using the dose cup or an oral syringe.
  • Don't cut pills in half without checking with the doctor or pharmacist, as many medications are coated in order to protect the stomach lining and/or be long acting.

Here's hoping these tips prove helpful and that we see a drop in medication errors across the state in 2015. However, if you have been victimized by a medication mistake, it's important to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and options for pursuing justice.

Source: WPTZ, "Medication errors: Cut your risk with these steps," Oct. 23, 2014

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Kujawski & Associates LLC
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O'Fallon, IL 62269

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