Preventing Medication Errors: What You Can Do to Help


Medication Error

Medication errors are a far too common kind of medical malpractice. Errors in the type and dosage of medication can cause serious injury and even death in some patients. A recent Penn State survey reported that one-third of respondents in Pennsylvania had experienced a preventable medication error themselves or in their family. Although you cannot always catch the errors that medical professionals make, you can take steps to protect you and your loved ones from being injured by this type of medical malpractice.

At the Doctor

  • Remind the doctor of any medication allergies you have before taking samples or before they write a new prescription.
  • Ask the doctor if the new prescription will interact in any way with the medications you are already taking.
  • Ask the doctor for specific dosage instructions.
  • Ask the doctor what side effects or danger signs to look for.
  • Make sure you understand what the new medicine is and how you should expect to feel while taking it.

In the Hospital

  • Keep an updated list of drugs you are taking, including any over-the-counter medications or supplements.
  • Do not take medications without first asking the provider to check your patient identification bracelet or chart.
  • If a medicine looks new or different, ask what it is and what it is for before taking it.
  • Remind your doctors and nurses of your medication allergies when they are prescribing or administering new medications.
  • When you are being discharged from the hospital, go over each medication you are prescribed with the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to make sure you understand what each is for and its proper dosage.

At the Pharmacy

  • Choose a primary pharmacy where you pick up your medications so the pharmacist and staff can get to know you and your regular prescriptions.
  • For any liquid medications, ask for a measuring device to administer the appropriate dosage.
  • Ask for dosage directions.
  • Ask the pharmacist if you have any concerns about side effects from the medication or potential side effects from mixing the new prescription with your regular medications.

At Home

  • Follow the dosage instructions exactly.
  • Never crush or break tablets that you have difficulty swallowing. Ask the pharmacist if they come in a liquid form.
  • Use a pill organizer to keep your daily medications organized and easily remind yourself if you have already taken your medications for the day.
  • Check your medicine cabinet every six months to ensure that no drugs have expired. Dispose of any prescriptions that are out of date.

It is not always possible to be your own best advocate when you are undergoing medical treatment. Don’t hesitate to enlist the help of the friends and family that are part of your caretaking team to keep track of your medications and ask questions of the medical professionals who are prescribing and administering medications.

This blog post was submitted by Kline & Specter, PC.  At Kline & Specter, five of our attorneys are also doctors. We understand how medication errors can cause severe injuries. We are dedicated to pursuing medical malpractice cases for victims and their families, and we have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our injured clients. If you have suffered a severe injury or lost a loved one because of medication errors, we can help.

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