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6 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Medication Errors

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6 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Medication Errors

What would the world be like without medication?

Medicines can ease pain, cure infectious diseases, and prevent problems related to chronic diseases. C0nversely, medicines can trigger harmful, even deadly, reactions if not used properly. In fact, the Institute of Medicine estimates that at least 1.5 million people are harmed by errors related to prescription medications each year.

Medication errors, a type of medical malpractice, can occur at home, the doctor’s office, or the pharmacy. If you have suffered harm from a medication mistake, you may want to speak with an experienced West Virginia medical malpractice attorney to determine whether or not you have a case. You can help protect yourself and your loved ones by doing the following:

  1. Know the name of your medication. Always be sure to ask the name of the medication rather than allowing your doctor to simply write a prescription. This will ensure you notice if the pharmacy gives you the wrong drugs.
  2. Know the purpose of your medication. It is imperative that you understand your medication because you will be more likely to use it properly, more likely to know what to expect from taking it, and better able to communicate any problems to your health care provider.
  3. Ask questions. Some good questions to ask: What side effects might I experience? When should I take this medication? How much time should pass between each dose? What activities, food, or medications should I avoid while using this medication? To help you remember, take notes or have your doctor write down instructions or other important information that you should know about your medication.
  4. Read labels and follow directions. To avoid potentially harmful situations, be sure to read the drug label every time. Before taking any medication, you should understand when to use it, how long to use it, and how much to administer.
  5. Maintain a list of all your medications. Keep the list of your drugs and dietary supplements with you at all times, such as in your wallet or purse, and keep a copy in your home. Additionally, provide a trusted friend or family member with a copy of the list or let him or her know the location of it so that in the case of an emergency, that person will be able to inform your doctor of the medications and dietary supplements you take.
  6. Keep your health care providers informed. Keeping all of your health care professionals cognizant of everything you use (over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements included) will help ensure you do not take medications that contain the same active ingredient or will interact with something else you are using.

While certainly not an exhaustive list, the aforementioned actionable tips will provide you with the information you need to take an active role in your own healthcare and avoid medication mistakes.

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