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Medication errors are serious offenses. These involve any of the following: the administration of the wrong medicine, in the wrong route and in the wrong dose that may or may not cause harm to the patient. Errors can happen anywhere in the medication use cycle, from the prescription, transcription, dispersion and administration of the drug. There are also many people involved in medication errors such as the physician, nurse, pharmacist and even the patients themselves. Medication errors take the form of misdiagnosis, illegibly written prescriptions, incorrect use of zeros and decimal points and any other form that will result in the discrepancy between the physician’s prescription and the actual form of drug administered to the patient.

As patients, we can prevent medication errors by being pro-active in the treatment process. We shouldn’t hesitate to question the doctor’s prescriptions and ask for clarifications if anything is unclear to us. We can also ask physicians with illegible handwriting to spell the drug name to us to prevent any errors regarding misinterpretation of handwriting. Also, give your physician a thorough health history, focusing on areas such as current medications used, allergies and other medical diagnoses, as it would aid the physician in making a prescription. Ask the doctor what the drug is for and what its functions are in the body. Double-check any prescription for the route and the frequency of each dose. Also, we can get the contact details of our physicians to let them know right away if there had been discrepancies in the administration compared to what he ordered.

When it’s all said and done, and still, for some reason, a medication error occurred, what can be done to address this?

Keep records

First of all, do not panic. Nothing good comes out of panicking, except that you are only adding unnecessary stress to yourself. Keep a clear head, check the label of the drug you’ve just taken in (take note of the name, expiration date and the dose per tablet or mL) and compare it with the physician’s prescription. Then, if there are any discrepancies, contact your doctor immediately. Relate the events surrounding the error (such as “I thought it was the drug you prescribed me, but it was actually my mother’s insulin!” or ”I took the drug that was given to me at the pharmacy, but then I just noticed that it had been a week since its expiry date!”) Supplying as much information as you can ensure that your doctor can provide you with a safe precautionary measure.

Make your Own Research

Various information on different drugs are available online. There, you can search for the proper administration instructions and also see what the drug look like (especially if your drug is a tablet or a pill, check the colour and shape or any other special markings of your drug). Most drug directory sites also has a drug interaction function where you can input the drug you’ve taken in and check for any adverse drug reactions with other drugs you might be taking in as well.

Seek Legal Action

If you feel that your physician, pharmacy or nurse is the cause of the error and yet they are not cooperative with you, seek legal help. This is a serious offense by health workers whose aim is to promote patient health and safety. Talk to your lawyer or search in the Internet about instances similar to yours and seek advice.