With an ever-growing list of drugs available in the pharmaceutical world, a chance for error is always possible. Mistakes involving prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs occur with surprising frequency in the United States. The potential for error begins with the initial prescription. Dispensing by the pharmacist is the next cause for possible concern. Once in the hands of the nurse, doctor, or other medical professional, the opportunity for a mistake continues with the administration of the medication. The most effective way to ensure the safe handling of any drug is to educate yourself on side effects and interactions. Communication with your pharmacist and physician is imperative to preserve your continued health and safety.
The most common causes of medication mistakes are the result of a lack of communication. For example:
- Misunderstandings among medical professionals, including misread prescriptions, are common causes of error.
- Poor communication between a healthcare provider and his or her patient can result from lack of time or fear of asking embarrassing questions.
- Medical abbreviations and medications with similar names can be confused.
The key to preventing potentially deadly medication errors is to gather knowledge about any drug you purchase over-the-counter or are prescribed. Don’t simply take your doctor’s word for it – never hesitate to ask for clarification on any aspect of a drug that you are not certain about. Make sure you understand the dosage and any adverse reactions to food, drink, or other drugs, and be familiar with the possible side effects. This information could save your life.
Though they may seem obvious, certain common tendencies should be avoided when taking medications. For starters, always check the label before administering any kind of medication. Confusing ear-drops for eye-drops, for instance, can cause permanent damage. Additionally, never chew a pill that was meant to be swallowed whole. The body absorbs substances in various ways and absorption may be compromised if the pill is taken in improper form. Some medications are coated to protect your stomach, some for time-release purposes. Also, you should never cut a pill without consulting with your doctor or pharmacist first. Finally, for accurate dosing, never assume the measuring spoon or cup is the same as a teaspoon from your silverware collection.
Safe Medication Habits
The following tips can significantly reduce the risk of medication error:
- Keep a log of all the medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, supplements, and herbal products you take. File this information with the information you receive with the medication.
- Go to the same pharmacy for all your prescriptions.
- Keep all medications in the original packaging.
- Organize medications using a pillbox or dispenser.
- Never take anyone else’s medication and never give yours away.
- Always read the label before administering any medication to avoid a mix up.
The importance of medication safety cannot be understated. If you are the victim of an injury caused by a medication error, you may be entitled to compensation for your expenses, lost wages, and future loss of earning capacity. At Hancock Injury Attorneys, we understand the frustration, emotional exhaustion, and pain that can result from a life-altering medication error. We believe in analyzing every detail of your unique situation to determine the best strategies for moving forward.