Every year 1.5 million people in the United States become sick or severely injured as a result of medication errors, according to the Institute of Medicine. Out of this number, 100,000 die. The most common medication error relates to the administration of a drug, where a patient is given an improper dosage. Other errors involve a doctor or health care professional administering the wrong drug entirely or simply patient misuse of the medication prescribed.
Nearly all medication errors are preventable. To help better protect yourself it is important that you follow these simple steps:
When your doctor gives you a prescription, ask him or her to tell you the name of the drug, the correct dosage, and what it is used for.
Be sure you understand the directions for any medications you may be taking including the correct dosage, storage requirements, drug interactions and any special instructions.
Be sure to tell your doctor the names of all the prescription and non-prescription drugs, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies you are taking every time he or she writes you a new prescription. This will help prevent another type of common medication error, undesirable and potentially serious interactions among medications.
Finally, never be afraid to ask questions. If the name of the drug on your prescription looks different than what you expected, if the directions appear different than you thought, or if the pills or medication itself look different, tell your doctor or pharmacist immediately. Asking questions can help save your life. It is a free and easy way to ensure that you do not become the victim of a medication error.
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