Medical errors do happen and in many cases, these errors revolve around medication. Whether it’s a mix up in the prescription or taking something that interacts badly with something else you’re taking, many of these errors could be prevented by simply communicating with your health care provider.
Sometimes, patients can get a little relaxed when they see the same health care provider repeatedly. They trust their doctor to remember them, their medical history and what medications they take. There is however, a major problem with this way of thinking. While most general practitioners and other professionals who see the same patients repeatedly will remember them to some extent, they see thousands of people in a short amount of time. Therefore, it’s easy to make a mistake. After all, they’re only human.
Medical errors revolving around medications can also occur when your normal doctor retires, you move to a new location or when you need to be referred to someone new. In these cases, your records have to be transferred from one office to the other. It’s possible for important information to get lost or misplaced during the transfer, so it’s up to you to make sure the new doctor is up-to-date.
Here are some ways that you can help prevent medical errors revolving around medications from occurring:
- Each time you see your doctor, make sure they have a complete list of the medicines you take. This includes any over-the-counter medication, vitamins or herbs. In fact, it’s a good idea to take them with you on your doctor’s visit.
- Keep an open line of communication going at all times. Talk to your doctor, ask questions and if you don’t understand something, ask him to explain it in a way that you can understand.
- If any doctor plans to write you a new prescriptions, ask if it will have any reaction with the medicines you’re already taking both prescriptions and over-the-counter. A simple reminder could help prevent a medical error from occurring.
- Discuss any allergies that you have and tell your doctor about any adverse reactions you have had in the past to medications, even if it was a mild reaction.
- Pay attention when your doctor writes you a prescription. You need to know the name of it, how many milligrams it should be, how often to take it and for how long. Then, inspect your medication before leaving the pharmacy to make sure you have the right thing and that everything matches what you were told by your physician.
- Use marked syringes to measure liquid medicines to make sure you get the right dosage. Teaspoons and tablespoons are not always accurate.
- Discuss the side effects associated with any new prescriptions and find out what you should do if you have a problem. Some side effects can make an existing condition worse so you need to know what to expect.
Be an active member of your own health care routine by becoming a part of the decision making process. Many people tend to just listen to what their doctor is saying without really understanding it and that is where many of the problems arise.
If you’re not sure what type of medicine you’re being prescribed, why you are being given that particular medicine or if you have any other concerns, just ask. It could save a lot of issues later on and prevent you from being the victim of medical errors.
Lisa Mason is a freelance writer who enjoys educating the public on important topics like this and more. You can learn more from Dan Bucsko, who likes to share his expertise with other health care professionals.