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Communication key to reducing medication errors

Medication errors are some of the most common types of medical mistakes doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals make. There are several things New Mexico residents can do in order to reduce the likelihood that such an error will happen to them or to their loved ones.

A big problem can happen when people who are already taking several different medications is admitted to the hospital. Either they or their caregiver should bring a list of all of the medications they are taking, including those that are over the counter, vitamins or supplements. Hospital staff should make certain the complete list is entered into the hospital's electronic medical record to lessen the likelihood the patient will be prescribed too much of a medication or one that is contraindicated.

People should keep two copies of the medication list, whether it is their own or their loved one's. This list should include dosages, brand and generic names, times taken and how frequently the medications are taken every day. When the patient is ready to be discharged from the hospital, the nurse should review the pre-admission medication list and compare it with the medications the patient was taking while admitted as well as the prescriptions the patient is going home with. If the doctor changed the prescriptions, people should ask why and for that explanation to be placed in the discharge instructions.

A person who is given the wrong dose of a medication or is prescribed a wrong medication can suffer serious harm as a result. Clear communication can help reduce the likelihood of these types of mistakes, so people should not be afraid to present their medication lists and ask questions when their prescriptions are changed.

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