Medication errors include mistakes related to prescribing medication, dispensing it, or administering it. These errors are concerning and should be taken seriously. Severe harmful effects can become life-threatening, require hospitalization, and result in a patient’s death. In pregnant women, medication errors can lead to birth defects. While you assume that medical professionals and pharmacists always know what they are doing, mistakes happen. If you suspect you’re a victim of medication errors, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced Kentucky medical negligence lawyer.
You can help prevent becoming a victim of medication errors by being involved in your care. You should learn more about any medications you are currently taking or are newly prescribed. If you have questions or concerns, you should share them with your treating physician. Here are some additional helpful tips to help you avoid medication errors as a patient.
1. Read Up on Side Effects and Interactions
Do not trust that your physician or pharmacist will catch all potential issues with your prescriptions. You should always familiarize yourself with the possible side effects and read up on drug interactions. Drug interactions are not limited to other prescription medications. In some cases, something you take over the counter could interact with your prescription.
You should also look at possible food interactions. You should not take certain medications with certain foods because that can change their effects. Or it could increase potential side effects. For example, grapefruit is a typical food to avoid while taking numerous medications. It can cause issues with statin drugs to lower cholesterol, corticosteroids for Crohn’s disease, some antihistamines, and more. If your prescription says to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice, stay away from Seville oranges, pomelos, and tangelos as well. Watch for any of these hiding in prepared foods or juice mixes too.
2. Talk About Supplements and Non-Prescription Drugs
Do you routinely take over-the-counter medication? What about vitamins and supplements? You need to let your doctor know about anything else you take. Supplements and non-prescription medications can also interact with each other. Two common examples include St. John’s wort and goldenseal, both of which can cause drug interactions. Another example is Ginkgo, which could increase the risk of bleeding for patients on warfarin.
Many people forget to let their doctors or pharmacists know what supplements and over-the-counter drugs they occasionally or regularly use.
3. Make Sure You Have the Right Prescription
Verify you have the right prescription. Make sure what you are picking up is what the doctor prescribed and what the pharmacist filled. Pharmacists typically go over the medications with you when picking up a prescription. However, you may not immediately realize you got the wrong medication. You could be receiving a generic brand instead of the official name your doctor said, or you could have the wrong prescription entirely.
Many insurance companies don’t cover brand-name medications, so you may not hear the name you were expecting. Ensure that this is the generic name for the drug you were expecting to receive. Sometimes doctors make mistakes and inadvertently write down the wrong thing on their prescription pad or enter the incorrect code in the computer when sending a prescription electronically.
4. Confirm Dosage and Ask Questions If Something Doesn’t Match
It’s essential to follow up on dosage if you have questions. Perhaps your doctor said you would be prescribed something to take twice a day. When you pick up the prescription, the pharmacist says to take it four times a day. Make sure you understand where the discrepancy is and why. Maybe you’re receiving a lower strength prescription that you need to take more often, or maybe the pharmacy misread the doctor’s notes on dosage.
5. Confirm Your Allergies
Are you allergic to penicillin? You may not say anything because the doctor prescribed amoxicillin. However, amoxicillin is in the immediate penicillin family. You could have an allergic reaction to this medication. Don’t assume that your medication allergies are not relevant just because you’re seeking treatment for something different. You want all allergies noted in your record and patient history. This notation can help keep you safe in the future if the doctor does need to prescribe something from the same class of drugs.
6. Ask Important Questions
It’s always best to educate yourself. You can help avoid medication errors by asking questions. If you miss a dose, ask what you should do. Don’t assume you should double up and take the two doses together. Did you accidentally take too much medication at one time? You may need to pick up the phone and inquire about what you should do.
If you are hospitalized and need regular medications administered, confirm the medication if you feel something is amiss. If you usually take a pill twice a day and the hospital nurses say you must take it four times a day, ask why there is a change in dosage. You might find out that someone wrote the wrong information on your chart. Paying attention to your hospital prescriptions can help you avoid medication errors as a patient.
7. Keep an Updated List of Your Medications
If you take daily medications, you should keep an updated list to show your physicians and pharmacists. It’s easy to forget medication names or dosages when sitting in a doctor’s office and not feeling well. Keep detailed records such as the specific name of the medication, the dosage, and how long you’ve been taking it. It’s wise to keep any supplements and over-the-counter medicines listed here.
8. Try to Use the Same Pharmacy
If possible, stick with the same pharmacy for your prescriptions. At least, make sure it’s the same chain if records are computerized and compatible between branches. Doing so can help your pharmacists keep better track of possible drug interactions.
Contact a Kentucky Medical Negligence Lawyer
If you believe you’re a medication errors victim, you need to speak with a skilled attorney at Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible. Attorney Seth Gladstein has over 20 years of experience with medical malpractice claims. He has defended and sued physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. If a medical professional, such as a physician or pharmacist, is responsible for your injuries, you could have a valid personal injury claim. Contact Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us put our expertise to work for you and help you pursue the compensation you deserve as a victim of medication errors in Kentucky.