Medication Mistake? Here’s What You Should Do.
Medication is supposed to help you feel better, but if there’s an error with your prescription, the results can be very serious. Mistakes like giving a patient the incorrect dose of medication, prescribing a medication that the patient is allergic to, or giving a patient the wrong medicine all together can all have potentially dangerous or fatal, side effects and complications. A missed zero or misplaced decimal point, for example, can result in a patient taking too much or not enough of their medicine.
With many medical facilities making the switch to electronic prescription systems, progress is being made on reducing medication errors, but mistakes still happen. It’s believed that about 1-5 percent of prescriptions filled in the United States have some type of error. A pharmacist might mistakenly give a patient a medication that has a very similar name to the one prescribed to them, overlook a drug interaction or patient allergy, or misread a doctor’s recommended dosage.
Medication errors can ultimately involve practically anyone involved in administering or prescribing medicine, including doctors, nurses, pharmacies, and in some cases, pharmaceutical companies. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medication error, contact a medical malpractice lawyer right away. Not only can these types of cases be complicated, your case will be bound by a statute of limitations so it’s important to not let those pass. If you’re able to, keep the unused portion of your medication.
Protecting Yourself from Medication Mistakes
In some situations, you might not have much ability to try to prevent medication mistakes before they happen, such as if you’re in a hospital and a nurse is in charge of administering your medicine. But if you’re picking up a prescription at a pharmacy, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from mistakes.
When picking up a prescription, most people just check out without opening their medication first. But while you’re still at the pharmacy, it’s a good idea to open your medication and make sure it appears to be correct. If you’re refilling a prescription, the pills should look familiar. But if you’re taking a new medication, look it up online to get an idea of what it should look like first. Don’t forget to double check the label to make sure the dosage is correct. Ideally, ask your doctor to write down the name and dosage of your medication for you so that you have a copy you can reference. It might also be helpful to have them write down the name of the generic version of the medication.
If you’re taking a new medication, don’t be afraid to ask to speak to the pharmacist before you leave. This is a good opportunity to remind the pharmacist of any allergies you have or of any other medications you’re taking to make sure there won’t be any interactions or side effects. Be sure to have the pharmacist explain exactly what the medication is supposed to do. Even if you don’t begin to suspect there may be a mistake with your medication until you get home, contact the pharmacy right away and seek medical attention if you’re experiencing any negative side effects.