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How Consumers Can Help Reduce Medication Errors

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law

Millions of people suffer dangerous side effects, injuries, or even death from taking the wrong medication in this country every year. While some of these medication mistakes are caused by people mixing up their own medications, other mistakes are caused by pharmacists and doctors. 

For instance, one case the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discusses on their website shows how wrong medication is given out. A doctor called an antibiotic prescription for Noroxin into a pharmacy, but a pharmacist filled the order for Neurontin, which is a medication to treat seizures. In this case, the patient was aware of the medication mix up after reading the medication leaflet and asking the pharmacist about it. However, some people aren’t aware that they were prescribed the wrong medication until it is too late. 

In order to reduce medication errors and the wrong medication being prescribed, the FDA has created tips for consumers to protect themselves from wrong medication errors. This list includes:

  • Be familiar with the type of medication errors that occur. According to the FDA’s review of fatal medication errors from 1993 to 1998, the most common medication errors were administering an improper dose of medication, giving the wrong drug, and using the wrong route of administration. As a patient, you don’t have control over some of these things, but you can ask questions and be aware.
  • When prescribed a drug, find out what the medication is called. Additionally, find out what the medication is used for. So many people allow a doctor to write a prescription for them without asking what medication it is, the name of the drug, and the purpose of the prescription. 
  • Ask the prescribing doctor how to take the drug. This way you will understand the directions, if you need to take the medication with or without food, and how many times a day you should be taking it. It is important to know if you should avoid taking any other medications while prescribed this one.
  • Show your doctor the list of all your other medications, even over-the-counter drugs. Sometimes there are drug interactions, and doctors need to know what you are taking in order to be able to prescribe a drug safely. 
  • Always ask. If you pills look different than usual, if the name on the pill bottle is different than what you thought your doctor prescribed, if the directions are different than what the doctor told you, or if anything else is different, you should ask before taking the medication.

It is best to always be in the know about what medication you were prescribed and how to take it so that you are better able to avoid a medication error.

If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one due to a pharmacy giving you the wrong medication, you should call our Texas pharmacy error lawyers with Kennedy Hodges at 888-526-7616 for a complimentary consultation today. Also, get a FREE copy of our report How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.