In 2016, we learned that medical errors had become the third leading cause of the death in the nation. There are many different kinds of error that contribute to that figure, including errors with medication. Avoiding medication error is no longer as simple as sticking to a schedule and taking the right pill at the right time. With more prescription medications on the market than ever before, the chances of adverse interactions or a simple pharmacy mistake are also higher than ever.
Common causes of medication errors
The Mayo Clinic tells us, “Medication errors can happen anywhere, including your own home and in doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies and senior living facilities. Knowing what you’re up against can help you play it safe. The most common causes of medication errors are poor communication between health care providers, poor communication between providers and their patients, and sound-alike medication names and medical abbreviations.”
Medication errors are most often made by healthcare providers or at the pharmacy, but there are steps that you can take to reduce your family’s risk of falling prey to these errors. For yourself, your children, or your elderly loved ones, stay safe with these steps from Consumer Reports:
- Always read the insert. The paperwork that comes along with your prescription contains important information about dosages, possible side effects and drug interactions. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with a new prescription could mean the difference between life and death.
- Use the measuring device that came with the prescription. A few extra milligrams of medication might not seem dangerous; it might even seem beneficial. However, medication dosages are carefully calibrated, and those few milligrams can have serious consequences for the very young, the very old, and everyone in between.
- Don’t skip doses. Medications are thoroughly tested before they can be sold; the instructions are there for a reason. If you’re skipping doses to save money, talk to your doctor about alternatives. If you simply forget, use calendars are reminders to make sure you get the medication you need.
- Follow the instructions. Certain foods interact badly with certain drugs; make sure you avoid them. Only take medication that was prescribed for you, and only take the way it was prescribed. If you cannot understand the instructions on the bottle, make sure to ask your doctor for clarification.
According to Consumer Reports, American medication errors happen more than 500,000 times per year; of those, at least 90,000 life-threatening or fatal mistakes are made at home. While these steps can help reduce your family’s risk, they cannot eliminate the possibility of professional error on behalf of your doctor or pharmacist.
If you or your loved one suffered because of a medication error, you may be entitled to compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, continuing care and other damages. The experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Call 410-730-7737 or contact us today for a free consultation.