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How to help prevent medication errors

Despite the number of safeguards put in place, medication errors are still common for Pittsburgh residents. Most Pittsburgh residents will need to take medication in their lives and many will need several to maintain their health. Medication errors can happen and it is important to be aware of ways to avoid these errors.

Patients should know what medications they are taking and the quantity and dosage of these medications, including herbal supplements and vitamins. When they visit their various doctors, this information should be shared with the doctor. A dangerous combination of prescriptions can have adverse effects so it is important for doctors to know everything you are taking. It can also be helpful to take all the medications with you to the doctor so you can discuss them and determine if they are the best option for your health.

If you do receive a new prescription, make sure you can read your doctor's handwriting. If you can't read the handwriting, the pharmacist may have a failure to read the doctor's handwriting properly as well, leading to serious consequences. When you are prescribed a new medication, make sure you know what the medication is for, why you are taking it, how long you are supposed to take it and what the side effects can be. When you pick up the prescription, be sure to verify that it is the medication your doctor prescribed with the pharmacist as occasionally errors can occur. The pharmacist can also answer any questions you have about the medication.

Medication errors can have serious consequences including death. There are safeguards put in place to protect patients but errors can occur. If you believe you have been affected by a medication error caused by a medical provider, you may want to speak with a legal professional skilled in medical malpractice. Compensation may be available for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, "20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors," accessed on Feb. 17, 2015

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