While medications are intended to heal, in some cases they actually cause harm. According to the Mayo Clinic, on a yearly basis preventable medication errors affect hundreds of thousands of people, with sometimes serious consequences. The following information sheds light on what medication errors entail and what steps you can take to potentially avoid them.
Medication errors can occur when drugs are being dispensed, prescribed, or taken. If a medication error occurs but causes no harm it’s called a potential adverse drug event, while those that do cause harm are called a preventable adverse drug event. Errors can involve incorrect dosages or even taking the wrong medication altogether. Even if the dose and type are correct, there might be an adverse drug interaction.
Additionally, errors can happen virtually anywhere. For instance, poor communication between medical staff may lead to issues. There may also be issues when the drug is being dispensed, such as at the pharmacy. Patients can also mix up drugs at home, which will result in taking one drug when they believe it to be another.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent errors from occurring at every level. When being prescribed a medication, make sure the doctor is aware of all other drugs you are currently taking. Also, be sure to ask questions about the drug being prescribed, including its generic name and intended purpose. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. At the pharmacy, be sure to ask about the drug to make sure you understand instructions and potential ill-effects. When you get the medicine home, it’s best to keep it in the original packaging.