Patients who are proactive about their medications and dosages can be the final barrier between themselves and a potentially lethal medication error. Learn how you can identify and prevent potential dosages disasters.
— Learn about each medicine you regularly take, what it’s from, what it looks like and the dosage. If your doctor prescribes a new medicine at your visit, ask the name and its purpose.
— Talk to your pharmacist if you are given a medication that is unfamiliar or is a different dosage or to be taken more or less frequently than your usual medication.
— Don’t start taking herbal supplements, vitamins or over-the-counter medications without checking with your pharmacist or doctor for potentially adverse reactions.
— Use the same pharmacy whenever possible for all of your refills. That ensures that a comprehensive list of all of your meds is on file.
Some patients have high risks of polypharmacy, which means that they are prescribed multiple drugs that are more than they need. This can be as, or more, dangerous than not taking the medicine that is prescribed to you.
This could wind up being deadly. Consider the following scenario:
You’re prescribed hydrocodone for your tendinitis pain, then wind up getting your wisdom teeth extracted. The dentist gives you Percocet for pain relief. About the same time, you come down with the flu and take a few doses of Nyquil. Unbeknownst to you, you have just given your liver a toxic dose of acetaminophen, as all three medications contain high doses of the active ingredient in Tylenol.
Some medication errors can be prevented by the patients themselves, but all too often those who are really sick or incapacitated, are at the mercy of health care providers to get it right. When they don’t, patients adversely affected by the medication mix-ups may pursue legal action.
Source: Health Alliance Plan of Michigan, “Medication Safety,” accessed Nov. 04, 2016