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Protect yourself from medication errors

Photo of Christopher Seleski

Medications are now available to treat almost any type of disease thanks to ongoing research in the medical community. Doctors in New York City are typically well educated and careful when they prescribe medications for their patients. However, mistakes are possible in any situation. Unfortunately, the problems that can arise as a result of a medication error include serious health risks, and even death.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, a medication error is an event that leads to a drug being taken in the wrong way, and there are a number of possible sources of the mistake. These include the following:

    •          Prescription or communication error
    •          Similar product names, packaging or labels
    •          Wrong dosage dispensed
    •          Lack of patient education
    •          Failure of health care professionals to monitor the patient

According to the Mayo Clinic, the FDA gets its information on the use and safety of drugs from reports of adverse medication events made by patients, physicians, pharmacists and others. Personally researching a prescription and checking for problems others may have had can help a person to know what questions to ask the doctor.

Before any appointment, it is important to create a detailed list of medicines already being taken to prevent harmful side effects from drug combinations. During the appointment, how and when to take the medicine should be noted, as well as how long it will take to see results. Some side effects are normal, but the doctor should also list the potentially harmful effects and early warning signs of a problem.

When a person picks up the prescription at the pharmacy, the pharmacist should give detailed instructions about the medication and answer any questions, as well. Knowledge is power, and any patient who does the research may significantly lower the chance of medication mistakes.

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