Most of us have heard the horror stories about people suffering serious harm after being given the wrong drug or wrong dosage by their neighborhood pharmacy. However, it’s important to understand that medication errors aren’t just confined to the pharmacy, but can also occur in less obvious locations such as the doctor’s office.
How exactly do medication mistakes — or adverse drug events — occur in doctor’s offices?
According to experts, prescriptions errors at this level typically occur thanks to lapses in effective communication between health care providers, and between providers and patients.
To illustrate, two physicians may fail to communicate with one another and end up prescribing different drugs designed to accomplish the same task, such that a patient receives an excessive — or even dangerous — amount of the same drug. Similarly, a physician may fail to inquire as to whether a patient is taking any new prescriptions and, in doing so, prescribe what amounts to a duplicate drug.
Another common source of medication errors in doctor’s offices is patients simply not being provided with sufficient information about a new drug by their physician. This lack of knowledge, as you might imagine, can create real confusion and real problems.
What can patients do to protect themselves from medication errors attributable to poor communication by their physician?
According to experts, the answer is becoming more proactive when it comes to medication management. This means engaging in active listening and not being afraid to ask their physician the necessary questions, especially when a new medication in being prescribed.
To illustrate, some questions that may be asked include:
- What will this medication do for me and when can I expect results?
- Will this medication interfere with any of my other medications?
- What are the brand names and generic names for the medication?
- What is the dosage you are prescribing for me?
- How long should I take it?
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
- Are there any side effects and what should I do if I experience any?
We will continue to explore this important topic in future posts. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced and skilled legal professional if you or a loved one has endured unimaginable harm thanks to a medication error or any other form of medical negligence.
Source: WPTZ, “Medication errors: Cut your risk with these steps,” Oct. 23, 2014