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What everyone should know about medication errors

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You may rely on doctors, nurses, hospital staff and pharmacists to prescribe, dispense and administer medication. This is vital to treat a variety of health conditions. Unfortunately, errors regarding medication are common and can cause their own serious medical problems.

According to the FDA, medication mistakes injure approximately 1.3 million people in America every year. These preventable errors can cause you harm and even have fatal consequences. While it is ultimately up to medical professionals to prevent these mishaps, you can take some action to protect yourself against them.

Understanding medical errors

First, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of the subject. Medical mistakes are preventable events that occur because a healthcare provider failed to meet the expected standard of care. Regarding medication errors, these can include:

  • Wrong dosage
  • Wrong medication
  • Wrong instructions
  • Prescription for a drug that should not mix with another one

Some errors can cause harm to patients, resulting in preventable adverse drug events. 

Causes of medical errors

These mistakes can be a result of a variety of factors:

  • Illegible transcription
  • Misinterpretation by pharmacist
  • Mixup between two drugs that sound or look alike
  • Medical abbreviations
  • Poor communication

Medication errors can occur anywhere, including the pharmacy, hospital, doctor office or nursing home.

How to reduce the chances of a medication error

Being informed is the best way to prevent becoming a victim of a medication mistake. You should ask your doctor about any new medications you start. Make sure you know the generic and brand name of the medication and understand its purpose. Ask how long it takes to see results and what you should do if you miss a dose. Be aware what other medications, foods, drinks or activities you should avoid while taking the drug. Make sure to read the advisory information regarding possible side effects that is provided with a prescription medication.

By learning all of this information about every medication you take, you can reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of medical malpractice. If you have suffered harm because of a medical error, seek the advice of an attorney regarding your right to claim compensation.


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