Health care providers and medical facilities have a system of checks and balances to help prevent dangerous prescription medication errors. Despite these precautions, however, mistakes can still happen.
If you or a loved one takes one or more prescription drugs, identify and avoid potential errors with these safety tips.
Check the dosage
Some drugs come in several different strengths. The Food and Drug Administration requires the label to indicate these dosage differences by using bold font and varying colors. After a pharmacist dispenses your medication, make sure that the dosage matches the dosage indicated by your doctor on the paperwork you received during your appointment or hospital discharge.
Use the right measurement
If your prescription comes with a syringe or cup, make sure the measurements match the prescribed dosage before using it to administer the medication. For example, your prescription may indicate a 5-milligram dose while the labels on the syringe mark off milliliters.
Understand your regimen
It can be challenging to remember the details about prescriptions, especially for seniors and others who may take multiple medications. Ensure you understand why the doctor prescribed a drug, how often you should take it, how much you should take, whether you should expect side effects, whether you should take it with food or drink, whether it may interfere with other medications you take and what steps should you take if you miss a dose or take too much.
Keep a list of all your medications along with this information. Ask a family member to help if necessary. You should give these details to any health care provider you see and bring it to medical appointments with your current physician.
When prescription errors caused by a member of the health care team lead to an adverse medical event, the patient may have a medical malpractice claim. Report any drug side effects to your doctor right away, especially if you become very ill or experience new symptoms with an existing prescription.