Every year, billions of prescription medications are filled or administered. Most of these medications are delivered appropriately. However, an unacceptable number are handled negligently, unnecessarily causing preventable harm to patients and other consumers.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the vast majority of medication errors are preventable. The goal of our firm is to make things safer, and this includes reducing the number of medication errors. The following are some things patients and their medical teams can do to prevent a poor outcome after prescribing medication.
What doctors and other medical professionals can do
Hospitals and healthcare offices should perform “medication reconciliation” with each and every patient. This includes comparing the list of medications you currently take with the list that is on record with your primary care doctor. This process is crucial in preventing harmful drug interactions where medications that may be beneficial when taken individually cause harm when taken together. Medication reconciliation can also reduce the risk of dosing errors, as well as catch duplicate prescriptions. Reconciliation should occur when prescribing a new drug, during all patient admissions to a hospital, and again on patient discharge.
What you can do to lower your risk
While it is ultimately up to your medical provider to provide the correct medication in the correct dosage, being proactive can also lower your risk of a poor outcome. Ask questions when prescribed a new medication, especially if you already take prescription medications. Ask the name of the drug and why it is being prescribed. Ask whether there is any risk of a negative interaction with any other medications you currently take. Do the same when having a prescription filled by your pharmacist. If there are concerns, raise them before leaving the pharmacy. Lastly, if you are having unusual symptoms after taking a new medication, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Working together, the number of preventable medication errors can be reduced. If you or someone you know has questions about a medication error that caused harm, please do not hesitate to contact us.