Medical malpractice doesn’t just happen in the doctor’s office or hospital. Medical malpractice can harm patients even when they are outside of a doctor’s direct care. Medication errors are one such phenomenon. These costly mistakes can aggravate current medical conditions or create new ones.While it’s medical professionals’ responsibility to prevent medication errors, there are some steps you can take on your own to reduce your chances of getting harmed by this mistake. Double-checking the medicine bottle is one such way to do so. Learn more about why this is important below.
Medication Errors Are More Common Than You Think
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a medication error is defined as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer.” Medication errors can occur in any of the following steps that medicine takes from prescription to usage:
- When the drug is prescribed
- When the drug is entered into a computer system
- When the drug is prepared or dispensed
- When the drug is given to or taken by a patient
The FDA receives more than 100,000 reports every year associated with a medication error in the U.S. Tens of thousands of medication errors like these can have disastrous consequences for patients, including the following:
- Life-threatening situation
- Birth defect
What Is the Healthcare Industry Doing to Prevent Medication Errors?
As mentioned previously, it should not be patients’ responsibility to ensure the medicines they take will not harm them. This obligation lies solely with the healthcare industry, including hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, nurses, and government agencies that oversee them.
The FDA is responsible for reviewing drugs’ names, labeling, packaging, and more to revise elements that may contribute to medication errors. More specifically, the FDA reviews the following information in an attempt to reduce medication errors:
- Proposed brand names to minimize confusion between brands
- Container labels to help medical professionals and patients choose the right product for them, including easy differentiation between dosages
While the FDA takes these steps before a drug is sent to the market, the process is not fool-proof. As a result, the agency may take these steps after reports are made regarding problems with a specific drug once it has already been approved for consumers’ use. Then, the FDA may require the drug’s manufacturer to remove the drug from the market and revise it before it can be sold again. The agency may also issue communications alerting the public about a medication safety issue.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Harmful Medication?
Unfortunately, despite these safeguards, the wrong medications get into the hands of patients quite frequently. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to take your own measures to reduce the chances of medication errors. The following steps can help you get started:
- Keep an up-to-date list of all medications you’re currently taking. This list should include prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.
- Keep your medications organized by using a pillbox or pill dispenser.
- Save all informational papers that come with your prescriptions.
- Try to use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions.
- When you receive a prescription, make sure your name and the correct name of the medication is on the medicine bottle. And don’t stop there – it’s also smart to double-check the dosage of the drug. For example, if you’re supposed to take 100mg of a certain drug, that means that 1,000mg could be fatal. Do a Google search to see if the dosage you have been given makes sense and, if not, contact your doctor and/or pharmacist.
Never take someone else’s medication or give yours to another person.
Harmed by a Medication Error? Contact Us Today
Despite all these safety measures, medication errors still happen, often due to no fault of the patient. If you or someone you love has been harmed by a medication error, our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys are here to help. We’re passionate about restoring lives and restoring justice for those who have been harmed by medical errors.