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Medication errors and how they can affect your life

Medication errors are a serious problem that can happen for a variety of reasons. If a patient is given the wrong type of medication or the wrong dosage, the consequences can be devastating. In the United States, close to 1.3 million people deal with injuries related to medication errors every year. Between your healthcare professional and the pharmacist, you should trust that you are getting exactly what you need in the form that you need it.

Causes of medication errors

Errors with medication commonly occur for three different reasons:

  • Poor communication between different health care providers
  • Lack of communication between patients and providers
  • Medical abbreviations and medication names that sound alike

It is up to your prescribing physician to know medication interactions and which are safe when treating you for an ailment. One of the best ways that consumers can avoid dealing with medication errors and their effects is to open communication and simply be aware of which drugs they take.

Communication is key

The best defense against a costly error with a medication is knowledge. You should always feel free to ask your doctor for further clarification about any medications you are prescribed. You have the right to know what you are taking and why you need it. If you are starting a new medication, use some of the following questions to get information:

  • What does the medication do, and how long will it be before I have noticeable results?
  • What dosage am I taking and how long should I plan to take it?
  • Does the medication have a generic name? If so, what is it?
  • What activities, drinks, food or other medications should I avoid while taking this medication?
  • Are there side effects? If so, how should they be handled?
  • If I miss a dose, what should I do?
  • If I take more than the prescribed dose, what should I do?
  • Does the new medication have any interaction with medications I am currently taking?

Whenever you visit a physician for an ailment, you should come prepared with all the names of the medication you take daily. This includes vitamins, herbs, supplements and anything over the counter. Be aware of medications you are allergic to, and tell your doctor if you are pregnant. Serious or chronic health problems should also be disclosed during your appointment.

Mistakes can be costly

No matter how informed or knowledgeable you are about medications, you should still be able to trust your physician to prescribe the correct medicines. If you have dealt with medication errors that have affected your life, you may benefit from consulting an attorney who can answer any questions you have.

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