Protecting Yourself From Prescription Errors: What You Need To Know

Posted on: 26 February 2015

Prescription medications are used to treat a multitude of conditions, but they can also lead to death if used or dispensed incorrectly. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, medication errors are responsible for at least one death a day. If you are given a prescription medication for any condition, it's in your best interest to be sure that everything is correct. Doctors and pharmacists are people, too. That means that they aren't infallible.

With the right precautions, you will be able to spot a problem before it becomes a serious danger to your health. Here are a few things you should consider to protect yourself from prescription medication mistakes and the potential for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Don't Underestimate the Importance of Information Inserts

The medication inserts provided with your prescriptions are designed to give you comprehensive information about the medication, its side effects, what it is intended to treat and anything that you might need to be attentive to when you're taking it. Read through the documentation with your prescriptions before you take them so that you understand the medication and how to take it.

Keep a List of All the Medications You're Taking

You should always have an up-to-date list of your medications, including the dosage, what it's for and who prescribed it. You should also include everything over-the-counter that you take, as some over-the-counter medications, supplements and vitamins can interact negatively with medications.

Provide your physician with a copy of this list every time it changes. You should also keep a copy of it with you when you go to the pharmacy, as this information is vital for your pharmacist to detect any potential conflicts with your medications.

Ask Directly About Interactions

Every time you get a new prescription, ask about any interactions that you should be aware of. Discuss it with both the prescribing doctor and your pharmacist. By asking the question specifically of both of them, you can not only get the benefit of both fields of expertise but also call both of their attention directly to the risk of interactions with your medications. This reduces the risk of an oversight.

Verify that the Prescription is Legible and Clear

Some of the most common prescription errors are caused by unclear prescriptions. Although most clinics and practices have started sending electronic prescriptions or providing computer-printed prescription forms, some doctors still prefer to hand write everything. If you have a doctor who prefers the classic methods, read the prescription before you leave and ask for clarification of anything that seems illegible or unclear.

Fill Your Prescriptions in the Same Place

Many prescription problems occur because patients fill prescriptions at several different pharmacies based on the current deals or convenience. This can lead to each pharmacy having incomplete information, which makes it hard to detect potential interactions.

Take Advantage of the Pharmacist Consultation

Any time you fill a prescription, take advantage of the pharmacist's consultation service. Have the pharmacist clearly explain what the medication is for and how you should take it. Then, ask him or her to describe the medication while you check the description against the product you were given. This can help you prevent the potential of receiving the wrong medication.

Sometimes, the pharmacist can even provide you with a picture of the medication and review the information about potential interactions and allergy risks. If you have any specific questions about the medication, this is the time to ask those, too.

By following the tips presented here, you can reduce the risk of potentially hazardous prescription medication errors. The more attentive you are to your medications and your health care in general, the lower your risk will be of a medical mistake that can lead to a health issue when you would need a personal injury attorney.