Every year, approximately 100,000 people are killed from prescription errors. We lose many fewer people to highway accidents every year, and yet, there is far more federal money spent in preventing highway traffic fatalities.
Eliminating human error from the doctor-pharmacist-patient chain may be hard, but not impossible. In the meantime, there are steps that you can take to prevent the 10 most common prescription errors.
According to Caring.com, the 10 most common prescription errors are:
Confusing two prescription drugs with similar names – This is one of the more common errors that Atlanta prescription error lawyers see. Re-check the prescription with the medication received at the pharmacy. If it is not a written prescription, ask the pharmacist to compare the label on the container with the prescription.
Drug interactions and side effects – Persons who are on more than one medication may be at risk for serious injuries from side effects, and not even know it. Ask your doctor about side effects, and inform him of all other medications that you’re taking currently, including herbal and nutritional supplements. You should also alert the pharmacist of all other medications that you are taking and make sure that the pharmacy’s chart on you is up-to-date and contains all of the medications that you are currently taking. Drug interactions kill and you must be certain that you are not at risk of serious injury or death because of this.
Overdose from compounding of medications – These errors occur when a patient takes more than one medication containing the same ingredient. The accumulation of the ingredient can cause an overdosage. Check the label, and look for words like “sleepy” or “drowsiness.” If more than one of your medicines have these side effects, it could be deadly. If you have any doubt, seek counseling from the pharmacist before you take any medications.
Wrong dosage – As an Atlanta pharmacy error attorney, I know that wrong dosages can be deadly. Before you leave the doctor’s office, make sure that you can read the dosage properly. Check the dosage with the pharmacist. If you have any doubts, speak up.
Mixing medications with alcohol – Patients often make this mistake with fatal consequences. Ask the doctor if it is safe to drink alcohol while you’re on the medication. Read the label on the medication carefully, and see if it is safe to drink alcohol. If it doubt, do not drink any alcohol while taking the medication, until you are able to confirm with your doctor or pharmacist that the medication is safe to be taken with alcohol. Once again, there is too much riding on the line to take a chance.
Double dosing on both generic and brand name drugs– This happens when patients don’t know that the generic variant contains the same ingredient as the brand-name medication. When your doctor is writing the prescription, ask him to inform you of the generic variant, if one is available.
Mixing over-the-counter medications with prescription drugs – Just because a medication is available over the counter, doesn’t mean that it is hundred percent safe to use as you like. Inform your doctor of any OTC drugs you’re using. OTC medications interact with prescription medications and you must inform the doctor who is writing the prescription and the pharmacist who is filling it of all medication, including OTC medications and supplements.
Drug Interactions with food – There are several foods that can react with certain medications leading to overdosage, limited absorption and other issues. The best person to advise you about these interactions is your doctor or pharmacist. For example, Coumadin is a popularly prescribed blood thinner. Many foods, especially green leafy vegetable, will interact with Coumadin and can cause your blood to become so thick or thin that you suffer can suffer or stroke or embolism.
Failure to adjust dosages to handle liver/kidney disorders – if you have impaired liver or kidney function, ask your doctor about decreased dosages of your medication. Persons with impaired liver or kidneys may not be able to eliminate toxins as easily, leading to an accumulation of toxins in the body. This can have serious consequences.
Prescription errors and the elderly – Certain drugs that cause side effects like drowsiness, are not advised for persons above the age of 65. If you or a loved one have been advised medications like these, make sure that you bring it to the attention of your doctor, and get a new prescription.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured by suspected pharmacy malpractice and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.