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Questions to ask to avoid prescription medication errors


Filling a prescription in Newton should not be something that causes injury or even death. But, the harsh reality is that it is possible for prescription medication errors to be made causing damage to the person. Other issues that might arise include a dosage mistake, not checking for allergies or a dangerous combination of prescriptions. For those who are getting a prescription, there are certain questions to ask before filling it and following the instructions.

The number of prescriptions filled in 2014 reached 4.3 billion costing nearly $374 billion. Mistakes with these medications kill approximately 7,000 people annually and that is only in hospitals. Asking questions and being proactive can avoid these errors. First, asking the medical professionals and pharmacists if there is a danger for drug interactions is key. If a doctor does not account for other medications that are being taken or even nutritional supplements, there could be a danger. Being aware of side effects is imperative. These could be minor with an upset stomach to something more serious with damage to internal organs. Knowing how to spot these potential side effects can avoid them or get treatment immediately if they arise.

Doctors might write a prescription and the pharmacist could fill it incorrectly. Asking both the doctor and the pharmacist what the dosage is supposed to be and how frequently to take the medication can prevent errors. If there is a conflict in the requirements, getting clarification is key. The amount of time that a medication is taken and its risks must be understood. For example, with antibiotics there is the likelihood that the body will develop a resistance to it and it will no longer be effective. With other medications, taking them for an extended period could cause issues other than what the medication is designed to treat making it a trade-off from one problem to another.

While patients can take part in their treatment to avoid errors, there are times -- such as in a hospital setting -- that the patient is simply given medication and doesn't know what is in it, much less what side effects can result. If there are injuries or death after a prescription medication mistake, it should be discussed with an attorney experienced in prescription medication errors and litigation.

Source: Fox News, "6 crucial questions to ask before filling a prescription," Elizabeth Renter, June 29, 2015

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