Preventing medication errors: Tips for patients in Florida

There are several steps patients should take to prevent being harmed by a medication error while taking a prescription drug.

Adults in Florida and throughout the U.S. use medication on a regular basis. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, during any given week, four out of five Americans will take a dietary or herbal supplement, over-the-counter medication or prescription medicine. Since medication usage is so common, patients should be aware of what they can do to prevent medication errors and protect their health.

Understand consumption directions

Patients should understand exactly how and when they should take a medication. For example, if a patient is ordered to take a prescription medicine three times a day, he or she should know:

  • Whether or not the medicine should be taken exactly eight hours apart or within a varying timeframe
  • If any foods, beverages or other medications should be avoided
  • If the medication should be taken before mealtimes
  • Whether the medication should be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator

Patients should also be aware of the side effects associated with the drug and what they should do if they experience them.

Know what types of errors occur

Some of the most common types of medication errors including being prescribed an incorrect dose, being given the wrong drug and using the wrong form of administration. Patients should also be aware that the elderly are more at risk to experience a medication error, and children are a vulnerable population as well.

Educate yourself about the medication

Instead of simply letting a healthcare professional prescribe a medication and not think anything of it, patients should make sure they know what drug they are taking and its purposes. Patients should also know what the name of the drug is and have their doctor put the purpose of the prescription on the order to prevent confusion with the drug name.

Maintain a medication list

Patients should maintain a comprehensive list of all the medications they take. This list should include all the medications they are prescribed as well as OTC medications, dietary supplements, medicinal herbs and any other supplements taken for dietary reasons. When at an appointment, patients should provide this list to their doctor.

Contact an attorney

Although patients in Florida may do their best to prevent medication errors, there are still situations where they are harmed by the negligence of a doctor. Those harmed by a medication error should contact an attorney in their area for assistance asserting their legal rights and determining what legal steps should be taken next.