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Reduce risk of errors in medications

Medication mistakes can happen at any stage of the health care process. New Mexico physicians might prescribe too much of a medication. Nurses in hospitals or long-term care facilities might give a patient the wrong drug or an incorrect dosage. Pharmacists sometimes dispense the wrong drugs, and patients might take too much of a drug. Regardless of which stage the error occurs during, there can be very serious consequences. It is important for everyone, from the prescribing physician to the patient, to be informed about the drug in consideration and the possible interactions with other medications the patient takes.

All patients who are prescribed medication should ask questions before they leave the doctor's office. Patients should know the name of the medicine, the dosage they should take and how often they should take it, what to do if they miss a dose or accidentally take too much, what side effects they should be aware of as well as what to do if they notice any of them. If the patient is already taking other medications, they should ask about any possible life-threatening drug interactions.

Doctors and patients should periodically go over a patient's list of medications and compare them with the orders on file. Reconciling prescription drugs is particularly helpful for patients that have more than one doctor. Each physician should look over their patient's diagnoses and prescriptions as well as over-the-counter drugs to check for errors and potential interactions.

Serious consequences due to medication errors can be prevented. However, if a mistake does occur, an attorney that focuses on medical malpractice law may gather information to determine whether a medical professional was responsible for the error. In cases where a physician or other health care provider prescribed the wrong medication, ordered an incorrect dosage or caused a drug interaction, an attorney may help a client obtain compensation for their injuries.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Medication errors: Cut your risk with these tips," Accessed Feb. 12, 2015

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