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Understanding prescription drug errors

Medication errors are preventable and can lead to serious potential harm. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that consumers carefully inspect prescription drugs and report concerns to their doctor or pharmacist.

Medical malpractice occurs when prescription drug errors result from negligence by a health care provider. Learn more about different types of medication errors to protect you and your family members from harm

Types of medication errors

Medication errors can at any stage of obtaining prescriptions. The doctor can prescribe the wrong medicine or a health care provider could administer it incorrectly. The doctor’s office or pharmacy can enter the information wrong in the computer system. The pharmacist could make an error in preparing medications. Patients can also take medications incorrectly.

These errors can lead to hospitalization, disability, life-threatening illness and birth defects. Some medication errors are fatal.

Preventing medication errors

The FDA controls approvals for name, label, packaging and design to help prevent dangerous medication errors. A barcode system ensures that health care providers administer medications to the correct patient, which reduces errors in the hospital and nursing home settings.

When your doctor prescribes medication, ask the name and reason for each prescription and make sure you understand the instructions. Ask questions if you do not understand. Keep a full list of your medications and the dosages and bring it to each medical appointment. Make sure you know about food or drug interactions that could cause side effects.

If you or a loved one experienced health effects from a medication error, you may be able to pursue legal compensation for medical malpractice.