Take Control of Your Prescription: 5 Tips on Preventing Medication Mistakes

Medication mistakes can cause preventable injuries that sometimes can happen when a doctor or pharmacist is careless. However, patients may be able to prevent some of these errors from occurring by knowing what can cause them and what they can do to ensure everything is correct. 

It’s helpful to understand the main types of mistakes that are made, to start. They include giving the wrong kind of medicine or the wrong dosage. With this information, patients should take steps to ensure they receive the right drug and the right amount. 

The first tip is to have a full understanding of why the drug is being prescribed, possible side effects and what form it will come in (pill, capsule or liquid). Additionally, it’s important to know how much, how long and how often it will need to be taken. 

Patients should write this information down while at the doctor’s office. Ask for the spelling of the medicine, verifying the dosage yet again. If the medication is going to be called into a pharmacy, ask for a printed or written copy from the doctor. 

The second tip is to confirm that the medication the pharmacy gives is correct. Compare the information on the bottle, label or packaging with what the patient and the doctor wrote down. 

A third tip is to have all prescriptions filled at just one pharmacy if possible. This reduces the chance of another type of error that can happen, a harmful reaction when more than one drug is taken. 

A fourth tip is to talk with the doctor or pharmacy if there is any discrepancy with the type or name of drug, potential interactions with other medications or the dosage. Both doctors and pharmacists are getting busier and busier, so one may read or write a prescription incorrectly. 

Finally, keep up-to-date records at home of the drugs being taken, including how often and when. Post this information where it can be seen easily in case of a prescription accident.  Use a pill organizer if taking more than one medication at a time. 

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