Reports of prescription errors pop up in the news quite frequently. Tales of patients getting the wrong medication in a fatal dosage seems to be a growing national issue for those Americans who rely on taking medications daily. According to the Journal of Patient Safety, nearly 425,000 Americans die from medical errors each year, many of those being from medication dosing, dispensing and exposure issues.
Prescription medications bring life-saving effects to millions of people throughout the United States. According to the Federal Drug Administration, doctors and other health care professionals write over three billion prescriptions annually to their patients in order to improve their health, wellbeing and quality of life. Many prescriptions, however, are written or dispensed incorrectly, bringing illness, injury or even fatal consequences to the patients who depend on them.
Complications of drug errors
Taking a prescription medication that has been dispensed incorrectly may cause harm to the patient. Whether the physician has written a prescription for the wrong medication out of error or the filling pharmacy has dispensed the wrong medication, the effects can be hazardous:
- The medication dispensed in error may interact with a medication that you are already taking and cause adverse reactions.
- You may have an allergic response to the medication.
- The medication may cause harmful side effects.
- The medication may be dispensed in a dosage that is lethal for the patient's body weight.
- The pharmacy or doctor may have failed to give you the proper information on how to take the drug correctly.
Catching drug errors as they happen can help prevent these consequences.
How to prevent prescription drug errors
By checking your medication carefully, you may be able to prevent the harmful effects of taking the wrong medication. Here are some things that you can do to spot a medication error:
- Double check with your physician and pharmacist that you are being given the appropriate medication for your condition. If you are still unsure, don't be afraid to speak to another physician or pharmacist.
- Always check your medication before you leave the pharmacy. If the medication looks different for any reason, ask why. If you have a new medication, go online to ensure that you were dispensed the proper drug.
- Keep all of your prescriptions at one pharmacy so the pharmacist is able to double check for any duplicate medication or drugs that interact with one another.
- Make sure that you understand all of the side effects and adverse reactions of each medication that you are taking.
Safe Use Initiative
In order to combat the growing number of prescription errors and unintended exposure to medication, the FDA has organized the Safe Use Initiative. This plan creates a platform for all medical professionals to collaborate in order to reduce the occurrence of preventable problems due to medication misuse.
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a prescription error, it is important to contact an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to handle the situation. You can get the compensation you deserve from your injuries, damage as well as pain and suffering when a professional attorney is on your side.