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Why do medication errors occur and how can you prevent them?

Medication errors can be made by drug manufacturers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists or anyone else who is responsible for producing, prescribing, distributing or administering drugs. A medication error can result in an adverse patient reaction. They're virtually always a preventable event.

A doctor may provide a patient with the wrong medication for their condition or one that adversely interacts with another drug that they're on. This often happens because they don't ask enough questions.

Nurses who are administering drugs may not always take time to talk with one another during a shift change. They may misinterpret notes or records. This can result in medication errors.

An overworked pharmacist may misread the label on a bottle or dispense it to a customer. A manufacturer may place the wrong medication in the wrong bottle. These too can cause problems for a patient.

Patients can help their doctors avoid medication errors by providing them with a list of medications that they're taking. They can also avoid complications by letting them know of any allergies that they have.

If a patient hasn't seen a particular doctor before, then it's important that they let them know about their medical history and current illnesses. Disclosing to a doctor that you are trying to become pregnant in the near future is also important.

Patients can protect themselves from medication errors by keeping their pill containers organized and by storing the drugs that they take in their original bottles.

It is essential for patients to read the information sheet that the pharmacy provides them with their prescription medication. It will typically describe how the pill should look, what it's intended to treat and any contraindications associated with taking it.

You may want to get into the habit of comparing this information against the medication you picked up at your pharmacy to make sure that its strength is accurate, dosage instructions are correct and that the pill matches the description on the sheet. If it doesn't, then you should let your pharmacist know right away.

Medication errors aren't always easy to prove. Like most medical malpractice cases, they tend to have a higher burden of proof, and a plaintiff must be able to prove that the harm was significant. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you understand the complexities of such claims.

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