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Common ways that medication errors happen

Medication errors are frightening, because most patients don't know what they're supposed to be taking or what to expect. If the doctor or nurse gives you two white pills and tells you to take them, are you going to honestly have any idea if the pills should actually be blue or if you should never take more than one? Most people just take the drugs as directed and hope the medical staff is right.

In some cases, they're not. This can happen because medications are sometimes stored close to each other, and a nurse who is in a hurry could grab the wrong one off of the shelf or the tray. This is especially a problem when medical professionals have to work long shifts. They could get worn out and make avoidable mistakes.

Another way that medication errors happen is when two drugs have names that sound similar. The nurse may think he or she was told to grab one medication when the doctor really requested another one. He or she could also hear the request correctly and simply read the name wrong when looking at the packaging.

When picking up medications from the pharmacy, some of these same issues crop up. You could get someone else's medication. Sloppy handwriting could cause the workers to misread the prescription and give you something else entirely. Workers could just be distracted while filling prescriptions and make mistakes.

If a medical professional is negligent and you end up taking the wrong medication, you could be seriously injured. The issues may stem from taking a drug you never needed and not getting the one you did need, perhaps making the underlying health issues even worse. When this happens, be sure you know what rights you have to compensation.

Source: US News, "How to Deal With Prescription Mistakes," Lisa Esposito, accessed Dec. 20, 2016

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