Medication errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Every year, thousands of people are killed or injured by errors in the prescribing, dispensing, and administration of medications.
The best way to prevent medication errors is to be an active participant in your own care. Keep reading to learn more about how to prevent medication errors.
Understand the types of medication errors.
There are many types of medication errors that can occur during the prescribing, dispensing, and administering of medications. Some of these errors can be deadly. It is important to understand the different types of medication errors in order to help prevent them.
One type of error is when the wrong drug is prescribed. This can happen when a doctor prescribes a medication for one condition but it is actually used to treat another condition. The patient may not get the desired effect from the medication or they may experience adverse effects from the incorrect drug.
Another type of error is when the wrong dose of a drug is prescribed or administered. This can result in serious side effects for the patient or even death. It is important to ensure that both doctors and nurses are aware of the correct doses for each medication and that they are properly administered.
A third type of error is when a patient receives two drugs that should not be given together. This can cause serious health problems for the patient as well as death in some cases. Pharmacists need to be aware of potential interactions between drugs and should not dispense them if there is any doubt about whether they will interact negatively.
Finally, mislabeling or mixing up medications can also lead to serious errors. Patients may receive medications that are not intended for them or they may receive an incorrect dosage due to mix-ups at the pharmacy counter or inpatient unit. To help prevent these types of errors, it is important to have clear labeling on all medications and proper storage conditions so that mistakes are less likely to happen.
Check the expiration date on all medications.
When taking medication, it is important to be aware of the expiration date and to discard any medications that are expired. Medications can lose their potency and effectiveness after they expire, which could lead to an incorrect dose or ineffective treatment. Additionally, expired medications may contain harmful substances that could cause negative side effects. To prevent medication errors, it is important to check the expiration date on all medications and discard any that are expired.
Read the prescription carefully before filling it.
When receiving a prescription from a doctor, it is important to take the time to read it carefully. This includes checking the name of the medication, the dosage, and any other instructions on how to take the medication. It is also important to make sure that the prescription is for the correct person and that it has not been tampered with. If there are any questions about the prescription, it is best to ask the doctor before filling it or giving it to someone else to fill. Filling prescriptions incorrectly can lead to serious medication errors, which can potentially be life-threatening.
Store medications safely and securely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that one in every 20 prescriptions filled in the United States results in a medication error. To help prevent these errors, it is important to store medications safely and securely.
When storing medications, be sure to keep them out of the reach of children and pets. It is also important to keep medications in their original containers and to label them clearly with the name of the drug, the dosage, and the date it was prescribed.
It is best to store medications in a cool, dry place where temperatures remain consistent. Avoid storing medications in direct sunlight or near heat sources, such as ovens or stoves. Also, avoid storing medications in humid environments, such as bathrooms.
To reduce the risk of medication errors, always take medication as directed by your doctor and never share prescription drugs with others.