Medication errors that can be dangerous

Most Pittsburgh residents will take a prescription medication at some time in their lives. Many will need numerous prescription medications to maintain their health. Accordingly, it is important to keep in mind some of the more common medication errors that can be made and cause serious injury.

One of the most common prescription medication errors is mixing medications that interact badly with each other. There are several general groups that don’t mix together well including oral contraceptives and antibiotics, pain killers and over the counter vitamins and supplements, and nasal decongestants with people who have high blood pressure. The next mistake is mixing drugs and alcohol. Alcohol reacts adversely with many medications including pain and anxiety medication, Tylenol, antibiotics and antihistamines.

Many times a patient leaves their doctor’s office with a prescription but not with enough information regarding the drug. It is important for a patient to know the name of the drug, the dosage, how often they should be taking it and what side effects they should be looking out for.

In addition, medication errors can occur at pharmacies. Pharmacies can give out the wrong medication because they can’t read the doctor’s handwriting or many other circumstances. Also, if a person uses several pharmacies to fill their prescriptions, potential drug interactions can be missed as the pharmacy doesn’t have full access to what the person is taking. Medications should always be taken as directed including time of day, number of times each day and any other important details.

Doctors and patients need to be aware of dangerous drug mistakes that can happen with prescription medication. Although prescription drugs are designed to help people, they can also lead to serious injury.

Source:, “7 dangerous drug mistakes“, Kathleen Doheny, accessed on Aug. 11, 2015