Keeping Accurate Health Records and Medication Lists Can Prevent Medical Errors

In a recent blog post, our Prince George’s County pharmacy error attorneys recently discussed the importance for individuals to communicate more effectively with their doctors and pharmacists, to promote the safe and effective use of drug therapy and reduce the risk of medication error.

Every year, according to research by the Institute of Medicine, 1.5 million people are injured by medication-related events. According to the APhA, an important step for medication error prevention is for individuals to carry accurate health records and current lists of prescription medication with them to show doctors and pharmacists that include the medications, the dosage, and the health conditions that the medication is treating.

The APhA claims that patient medication lists reduce the risk of medication duplication, incorrect dosages, pharmacy misfill, and other harmful drug side effects that could come from dangerous interactions. All patient allergies should also be clearly stated on the list, along with any other important information that could prevent medication error by providing emergency staff and pharmacists with important information that could be lifesaving.

The APhA also recommends that patients get to know their pharmacists, as next to doctors, pharmacists are the second most trusted medication experts and providers of healthcare needs.

In an earlier blog post our attorneys suggested other steps to take to reduce the risk of medication error injuries from pharmacy misfill or error:

• Always request written dosage instructions from your doctor or pharmacist to ensure that you understand them before taking the medication.
• Always check the label of the prescription drug carefully to make sure that the drug has your name on it, along with the drug name, the dosage, and usage directions.
• Check your refill prescription medication pills with great care before taking them to make sure that the appearance, taste or smell of the drugs has not changed.
• The APhA recommends getting to know your pharmacist and doctor, to reduce the risk of medical error or patient injury. Everyone has the right to receive counseling by your pharmacist, and it is often important to have a family member present while discussing your questions with a doctor or pharmacist.

• When entering a hospital, it is important to share your current list of medications and health records with the doctors and nurses, and to always ask what drugs you are being given.

Contact Lebowitz and Mzhen in Baltimore, Maryland and the Washington D.C.-area, for a free consultation about your pharmacy error injury rights.

American Pharmacists Association: APhM, American Pharmacists Month 2009

Related Web Resources:

Institute of Medicine (IOM)

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Medication Error Reports

Institute for Safe Medication Practices, (ISMP)

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