Medication errors are responsible for as many as 7,000 deaths each year.
Seniors are often at the greatest risk due to higher numbers of prescriptions and a heavier reliance on others for administration of their medications.
However, anyone can fall victim to a medication error. Some of the most common prescription drug problems for people of all ages include:
- Improper prescriptions
- Dangerous combinations of prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs
- Drug mix-ups
- Inconsistent administration and stopping use of a prescription medication too soon
When prescription errors occur, the results can range from ineffective treatment to death. Here are some tips on how you can help protect yourself and your family members from dangerous mistakes:
- Make sure your doctor is aware of any allergies and existing medications. Before writing a prescription, your doctor should ask you about allergies and any medications that you are currently taking. However, even if you aren’t asked, don’t be afraid to speak up. Allergic reactions can have serious short and long-term consequences (including death), as can certain drug combinations. When in doubt, always give your doctor more information rather than less.
- Understand what you’re taking and why you’re taking it. Many people leave the doctor’s office feeling confused as to what they’ve been prescribed. Before taking a prescription medication, it is important to understand its purpose. Many drugs have similar names and/or similar purposes, and it is easy for problems to arise if you don’t know exactly what you are supposed to be taking.
- Read labels carefully. If you don’t understand something, ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain. Labels will tell you what you’ve been prescribed, how much you’re supposed to take, how often you’re supposed to take it, and for how long. They should also provide warnings about side effects and other potential risks of consumption. If the label is inconsistent with what your doctor told you, or if you don’t understand what it says, be sure to ask questions. The Mayo Clinic provides a good list of questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist about your prescription drugs.
- Double check your dosage before taking any medications, and use a system to avoid overdose. Finally, always confirm your dosage before taking any prescription medications. Especially if you have multiple prescriptions, it can be easy to lose track of how many pills you are supposed to take and whether you’ve already taken today’s dose. Pill boxes and pill trackers can help you avoid mistakes. If you’re having difficulty or if you live in a nursing home and someone else takes care of your prescriptions for you, consider having a friend or family member double check to make sure you are taking your prescriptions appropriately.
A Chicago, IL Law Firm for Victims of Prescription Drug Errors
Malman Law provides compassionate and experienced representation for victims of prescription drug errors in Illinois. If you or a loved one has suffered due to a medication error, contact us today to arrange a free consultation.