These Tips Can Prevent Medication Errors

Follow these tips to help you prevent medication errors.

The members of your medical team, from your MDVIP-affiliated primary care doctor to your specialists and your pharmacists, work hard to keep you healthy. But you need to work hard too, especially when it comes to medications. Prescription drug errors, mishaps and adverse interactions are a leading cause of injury and hospitalization in the U.S.

Both patients and medical teams can make mistakes. And those mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. For example, did you know you shouldn’t split pills unless you’ve been specifically told to do so by your physician or pharmacist? That’s because some medications are coated to slow absorption or to protect the stomach. For liquid drugs, you should always use the appropriate measuring device. A kitchen spoon, for example, may give you too much or too little of a dose.

Here’s how you can reduce your risk of being harmed by this kind of medication error.

Know what drug you're taking and what it is for. Don’t let a physician prescribe a drug and send you on your way. Learn the drug’s name and its purpose.

Know how and when to take the prescription. Your pharmacist or physician can help if you have questions.

Find out if the medicine should be refrigerated.

Be honest with your team about what drugs, supplements, vitamins and over-the-counter medications you’re taking. Non-prescribed supplements and OTC meds can impact how your prescriptions work.

When you pick up a prescription, make sure it's what your doctor ordered.

Read the label every time you take the drug, especially if you take more than one drug. This will help keep you from getting confused.

Store drugs in their original containers with the labels on them. Pills look alike. This will help you tell the difference between medications.

Keep a list of drugs you take with you and provide a copy to each of your doctors. Make sure you have all the over-the-counter drugs, supplements and vitamins on the list. Take photos of each drug label and keep those photos on your phone.

Make sure you know about any drug-to-drug or drug-to-food interactions. You may be surprised to learn that eating certain foods can impact how well your prescriptions work.

If in doubt, call your pharmacist or your MDVIP-affiliated physician. They can help.

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