How many different prescription medications do you take? How much do you trust your doctor and pharmacist to catch any mistakes in your medications and keep you from harm?
Those are important questions. Every year, up to 9,000 people in this country die from medication errors — and countless others are harmed. Most of those medication errors could be prevented with just a little extra care on the part of the prescribing physician or the pharmacist who filled the order.
The reality is that you can never be 100% certain that your doctor or pharmacist won’t make a mistake. To better protect yourself against medication errors, you should do the following things:
- Know the brand name and generic name of your medication. This is important because your doctor may use a brand name to refer to your drugs even though the pharmacy dispenses a generic version.
- Know the dose and timing of your medications. Awareness of how much you should be taking helps avoid an overdose.
- Make sure that your drug allergies are listed. Both your pharmacist and your doctor’s office should have an updated list of any drug allergies you may have.
- Ask about potential interactions with herbal supplements. If you take any supplements or vitamins, you need to check with your doctor to make sure that it won’t negatively affect any medications.
- Know the potential side effects of new drugs. Make sure that you are aware of the “normal” side effects of any drugs so that you know when there’s a cause for concern.
A prescription error can ruin your life and cause lasting damage. If you’ve been injured or a loved one was killed by a medication error, you have a right to seek compensation.