Medication errors are risky, but they are preventable. Your best protection is asking questions, taking the dose on time using a pill reminder app, and gathering information about the meds you take. Often, the medication errors are due to mistakes in prescribing or changing the recommended routine without consultation from the doctor. The effects of errors can be devastating for health. However, most of them are easily preventable.
A common way is the active monitoring of your own health by learning more about the drugs you take and their possible side effects.
So, we recommend you to regularly stay in touch with your doctor. Share your concerns with him and ask questions that bother you about the medication.
What Are Medication Errors?
Medications mistakes are preventable because they are often due to the negligence of patients. If not watched properly, some mistakes can cause serious health damage.
A common cause of drug mistakes is taking an over-the-counter item that contains ingredients that are in a solution you are already taking. The result of this is an overdose of the recommended ingredient, exposing the patient to various health risks.
Another case of a preventable prescription error is taking depression medications that contain Fluoxetine with headache relievers that contain Sumatriptan. The two ingredients influence levels of serotonin in the brain. Taking them together may prompt a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Side effects of unsafe medication combinations incorporate confusion, fast heartbeat, and agitation among others.
How do they happen?
Though anyone can make medicine errors, the ratio in kids is higher. Typically, because they need different drug combinations than adults.
Knowing what you’re up against can help you lower the risk. The most common reasons for prescription mistakes are:
- Poor correspondence between your specialists
- Poor correspondence between you and your specialists
- Drug names that sound alike
- Medical Abbreviations
How to Prevent These Mistakes?
One word: knowledge. The more medication knowledge you have, the more efficiently you can avoid making mistakes. In case your specialist’s instructions are unclear, request an explanation. And if you want to start a new prescription using a pill tracker app, make sure to have the following information:
- The accurate name of the medicine
- Working of medication. Such as what is it supposed to do and long will you be using it?
- The amount of dose
- The backup plan for a missed dose
- Steps to take in case of overdose
- The foods, activities, or other medications to avoid while on medication
- Possible side effects
- Ways to counter side effects
Your doctor should be able to give all this information to help you prevent medication errors.
Take Part in Medicine Reconciliation
Asking questions is helpful, but not sufficient. Your healthcare specialist should take part in medicine reconciliation to completely diminish your risk of medication mistakes.
Essentially, it is a safety procedure that includes comparing the variety of meds your specialist has with the list of drugs you are currently taking. This procedure helps avoid mistakes such as:
- Missing doses
- Dangerous medicine combinations
Sharing your latest medical information with specialists gives the clearest image of your condition and helps avoid medicine mistakes.
This is what you should tell your specialist:
- The name and quality of all meds you’re taking and the time you take them, including prescription meds, herbs, nutrients, supplements, OTC drugs, vitamins, anything that you take intravenously.
- Any prescription that you’re sensitive to or that has caused you issues previously
- Whether you have any serious health problems
- If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
Avoid Making These Mistakes
Here some common mistakes that people make while on meds. Don’t repeat the same errors:
- Confusing eardrops with eyedrops: Always double check these drops. Eardrops typically have the label “otic” on them while eyedrops come with “ophthalmic,” label.
- Biting/chewing the wrong medications: Chewing a pill is never as effective as swallowing it. And there are some meds that should never be chewed. Doing so will change the way our bodies absorb them.
- Splitting/Cutting pills: Never split pills unless your specialist suggests so. Some pills should be sliced because they’re manufactured to be taken as a whole.
- Utilizing the wrong spoon. The regular silver spoons aren’t measuring spoons. Therefore, you should not use them for measuring doses. To get a precise measurement, use the container that comes with the prescription.
Useful Safety Tips
Play it safe with these safety tips:
- Keep a list of all medications you are currently using, including prescription and over the counter drugs
- Store medicines in their original containers
- Use a pill box to organize your medications
- Carefully read the instruction sheets that come with your meds
- Use the same pharmacy, if possible, for all of your prescriptions
- Don’t give your medicine to someone else and do not take someone else’s prescription
- Use a medication reminder app to avoid missing doses
Not asking questions is never the right solution for drug-related problems. Do not feel hesitant to ask your doctor questions or to tell him in case any negative changes appear in your health. Keep in mind that you’re the only one who can best protect your health.
If despite all your efforts the issues persist, talk with your specialist about whether to report it to health authorities such as FDA. Reporting drugs to FDA is simple, secure and can save others from being hurt by prescription mistakes.