Preventing medication errors

Medication errors can cause major health problems and even lead to death in Louisiana. Most errors of this kind are a result of human error. The good news, though, is this means they are preventable. Patients and caregivers can do their part to help stop medication errors.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, caregivers need to take responsibility and ensure patients are being safely given medications. Medical personnel should ensure patients are educated on the medications they are taking. This includes explaining to them about its effects, dosage and usage. They should also ensure they gather all patient information correctly, especially information on current medications being taken, along with verifying medical conditions. Caregivers also need to communicate clearly with each other, including ensuring prescriptions are written legibly and proper abbreviations are used. Finally, they need to become more educated on the drugs they are prescribing, including knowing about interactions, names, uses, guidelines and common mix ups.

Consumers are advised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take proactive steps to ensure they do not become a victim of a medication error. They should ask questions about everything, so they can learn about their care. They should always ask and understand any medication they are being given. In addition, they should question medical personnel before being given a drug to ensure it is the correct medication and the dosage is correct. Finally, patients need to be aware of their own medical histories and be honest when asked about any current drugs being taken.

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