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Tips for Avoiding Medication Errors


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year there about 700,000 emergency room visits in the United States happen because of medication errors. A “medication error” occurs whenever a person does not take a prescription or over-the-counter medication in the dosage prescribed, when one medication interacts with another medication the person is taking, or when the person skips prescription medication doses altogether. Other common medication errors can include:

  • Using the wrong measuring cup or spoon to measure out a liquid medication;
  • “Doubling up” on doses to make up for missed doses;
  • Crushing or cutting up a pill that is meant to be taken whole;
  • Mixing up eye drops with ear drops or vice versa; and
  • Not being aware of medications that contain the same or similar ingredients, which can lead to accidental overdoses.

Miscommunication is to Blame for Many Medication Errors

When a doctor and patient do not communicate effectively with one another, or when the doctor does not communicate well with other medical professionals like nurses and pharmacists, medication errors can happen. You can do your part to improve communication about your health by being open and honest with your doctor about your signs and symptoms and your compliance with any treatment directions he or she has previously given you. Ask questions about any medications your doctor prescribes you and make sure he or she is aware of medications you are already taking.

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Medication Errors

Serious injuries – even death – can result from medication errors. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of being injured by a medication error:

  • Make sure you have a thorough understanding of your prescription medications and how they are to be taken. You should know and be able to articulate what condition(s) each prescription medication is meant to treat, how often you are to take each medication, the amount of medication you are supposed to take for each dose, and how the medication is meant to be taken.
  • Take time to review any prescription and nonprescription medications and/or supplements you are taking with your doctor or pharmacist. A prescription medication may contain the same or similar ingredient as a nonprescription medication (like many pain medications do), or a supplement may render another medication ineffective or cause an adverse interaction.
  • Fill all of your prescription medications at the same pharmacy. Doing this will increase the likelihood that any potential negative interactions between your medications will be detected before they cause you injury.

Where to Turn After a Medication Error

Unfortunately, you can take all possible precautions and still be injured by a medication error because of negligence of a drug manufacturer, doctor, pharmacist, or other medical professional. If this has happened to you, turn to the experienced and dedicated Philadelphia and New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. We will devote our firm’s experience and resources to holding those who injured you through medication errors are held responsible for their careless and injurious behavior. Contact our office today at (215) 567-3500 or contact us online.

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