4 ways to protect yourself against an adverse drug reaction

It is estimated that half of all adverse drug reactions are preventable. Patients in Rhode Island can take several steps to avoid these incidents.

Medication errors in Rhode Island are all too common and can have serious side effects. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that having an adverse reaction to a drug - which can happen when medical professionals make a mistake - results in 100,000 hospitalizations across the country on an annual basis.

A drug error can happen for a number of reasons, such as the following:

  • A medical staff member administers the wrong medication.
  • The wrong dosage is given.
  • Hospital staff fail to check if a patient is allergic to a certain kind of drug.

The AHRQ states that roughly half of the adverse reactions people have to medications are preventable. For example, medical professionals must take care on their end to do everything correctly. Patients can also help avoid these mistakes through doing the following:

1. Know the risk for older adults

American Family Physician points out that older patients may be at risk for an adverse drug reaction, as 15 percent of those seeking medical care will experience one. This is due in part to physical changes that occur as someone ages, as well as the fact that older people tend to take multiple medications. Anyone who falls in this age group should be clear with a doctor on which medications he or she is taking as well as any conditions he or she may have.

2. Know the risk for children

Children are another risk group, as their medications are often based on their weight. Medical staff may incorrectly dose a child through taking an incorrect weight or reading charts wrong. Parents should be especially diligent about which medications are administered, asking questions and asking staff to double- and triple-check the dosage.

3. Alert a physician to any allergies

It is crucial that a doctor knows which drugs could trigger an allergic reaction in a patient. Many people are aware of which medications they are unable to take. Before any type of treatment for any condition, a patient should let a doctor know about these allergies, even if it seems irrelevant.

4. Ask questions

Lastly, before taking any medication, a patient should always know how much to take. In addition, it is vital to know specifics around how to take it. Some medications should be taken with food or at a certain time of day. Patients should be aware of any potential side effects as well as symptoms that could indicate that they are not reacting to the medication appropriately.

Despite all these pointers, it is still possible for someone to experience an adverse drug reaction. If that occurs due to a medical professional's mistake, the victim should take action. People who have concerns about this issue should speak with a medical malpractice attorney in Rhode Island.