Keep track. Ask questions. And no sharing.
It is a huge relief to find out that there is a way to treat your condition or illness. Whether it is a short-term antibiotic or a long-term drug for a chronic illness, prescription medications have the power to cure you or make your life more bearable.
You trust your health care providers to find the best treatment options out there, but what happens when they make a mistake with your medications? YOU pay the price. Maybe the ultimate price. It’s up to you to be vigilant.
Medication errors can start at the physician’s office, the pharmacy or even in your home. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of dealing with a serious medication error.
Keep all medications organized
Taking an antibiotic for 10 days is simple enough, but if you are taking several different pills each day, and it can be very confusing to remember. To avoid taking too much or too little of one drug, keep your pills as organized as possible. Use a pill organizer if you are traveling. Or at home, for that matter.
Never change medication bottles
Never put one medication in a bottle with a different label. Always keep your medicines in the same bottles they came in until they are gone. It may seem easier to combine them once you run low, but it is too easy to forget which pill you should be taking and when.
Never share prescription medications
If you are taking a prescription drug, it needs to have your name on the bottle and be prescribed to you. You should never share any prescribed medication with anyone else. That person could be allergic or suffer dangerous cross-reactions with other medications they are taking.
You could be responsible if they suffer a serious injury or accident as a result — or vice versa. (It is also a felony crime to be possess certain meds without a valid prescription, or to give them to others.)
Communicate with your medical professionals
This may be the most important thing you can do to prevent medication errors. Talk to your physician and pharmacist openly about any medicines you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements. Your health care providers should be aware of how the medications you take will interact and determine if it is safe to take them together. They should cross-check for contraindications such as known drug allergies or incompatible medical conditions.
Do your homework and stay vigilant
Just because it was prescribed to you does not mean you must take it without question. The doctor and the pharmacist should be able to address any concerns about dosage, drug interactions or side effects. Do not stop asking questions or researching until you are comfortable with the drug you are taking and how it will affect you. Contact the pharmacist or your doctor right away if you experience any side effects — don’t assume that it’s normal or that it will soon pass.
Medication errors are all too common, and can seriously affect your quality of life. If you or someone you love has been injured by a medication error, consult with an attorney today.