In a perfect world, you could trust your health care professional and pharmacist to always get things right. Unfortunately, things do not always go that way and patients suffer from the consequences. Medical errors, including medication errors, are the third leading cause of death in the United States, coming in only behind cancer and heart disease. This statistic shows this is a serious problem for American patients, and you should be aware of ways to protect yourself from these mistakes.
Know your medications
Some patients just take what is prescribed to them without any questions for the doctor or the pharmacist. You should always understand what you are taking and why. If any instructions are unclear, ask for more information. Some drugs may even interact with herbs or foods you regularly eat, and you should be given information about these interactions. If you have trouble understanding what your doctor is telling you, bring a family member to your appointment when you discuss treatment.
Be honest with your providers
Give your providers a thorough, honest list of any medications you are currently taking. This is especially important if you see more than one doctor. Even aspirin or over-the-counter drugs should be included in the list of medications. This reduces the chance that your doctor will give you a medication that interacts with another drug and causes illness or injury.
Never share medications
If a medication has been prescribed to you, you should be the only one taking it. Never take a medication that has been prescribed to another patient, and never share your drugs with another. Without a doctor's approval and a written prescription, you should never take a medication.
Keep your medications organized
If you take more than one medication each day, try using a pill organizer to ensure you do not take more than one at the wrong time. Keep a calendar that gives you the dosage and time you should take your medication each day, and check off the day every time you have taken it.
Never move medications to another bottle
Always keep medications in the same bottle they came in with the tag they came with. Even if it is a hassle to carry five pill bottles with you, you should never combine medications into one bottle. This can create confusion about what you are taking and when. Use a pill organizer if you do not want to take your medications with you.
Despite your best efforts, there are still times when medication errors will occur. If this is the case and you have been injured because of a medication error due to another's negligence, we encourage you to consult an attorney immediately.