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Ways to prevent medication errors

Technology in health care is supposed to improve care, not create more problems. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that about one out of every seven Medicare patients in a hospital experiences a medical error. You need to be an active participant in your treatment to avoid errors in medication.

Here are six ways you can stay safe and avoid prescription errors:

  • Make sure your doctors know all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.
  • Tell your doctor about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to any medication you have taken in the past.
  • When you get a prescription, make sure you know what the medication is for. Get as much information as you can about the side effects, how long you need to take the medicine for and if you should avoid any food or activities while taking the medication.
  • When you pick up your prescription from the pharmacy, verify the medication with the pharmacist.
  • In the hospital, ask the health care provider giving you medication what it is and what it is for before taking it.
  • If you are unable to take part in your care, get a family member to help.

If you are a victim of a medication error, you should not blame yourself. Most medication errors are the result of multiple factors within the health care system. The FDA reports that medication errors occur due to poor communication between health care providers, confusing drug labels and a lack of employee knowledge.

If the medication error caused serious harm to you, the parties responsible should be held accountable for your damages. It can be quite difficult to prove that the error was due to negligence, but with the help of an advocate who has medical resources outside of the treatment facility, you can reach the best possible outcome. You may want to discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer who can assess your claim for medical malpractice.