Avoiding Medication Errors – Patient Safety


According to recent estimates, more than 1.5 million people in the United States are killed, injured or sickened each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing and taking medications. As a patient, there are steps you can take to avoid being injured, and advocate for your own health. To help avoid drug errors, consider following these precautions the next time you visit your doctor or pharmacist:

At your doctor’s office:

  • Make a list of the medications you’re currently taking, and their dosage. Be sure to include any
    over-the-counter medications, including vitamins, supplements, creams, inhalers, drops, etc. Take this list with you to your doctor’s appointment(s).
  • If you’re prescribed a new medication, ask your doctor what the medication is used for.
  • Write down the name and dosage of the new medication(s). Ask if there is a generic available for the medication, and if so, what the generic name is.
  • Ask your doctor to describe the color, size and imprint on the medication.
  • Ask your doctor if there are any adverse drug interactions with the medicines you’re currently taking.
  • Ask your doctor about any side effects of the medication(s) and ask what to do if you experience any side effects.
  • Ask your doctor for a printed list of medications and dosing instructions.

At the Pharmacy:

  • Use the same pharmacy to fill all your medications so that they can help you keep track of everything you’re taking.
  • Ask your pharmacist for the name, dosage and what the medication is used for. Verify the information that the pharmacist gives you matches the information your doctor gave you.
  • Ask your pharmacist about any possible drug interactions.
  • Ask your pharmacist when to take the medication.
  • Ask your pharmacist if there are any foods you should avoid while on the drug.
  • Examine the label on your new prescription. Call your doctor if the name, dosage or frequency looks incorrect.

At home:

  • When taking a new medication, pay attention to how you feel. Call the doctor if you have a rash, hives, itching, fever, shortness of breath, wheezing, or any other unusual symptoms. Seek medical attention immediately if you have tightening in your airways, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, accelerated heart rate, a drop in your blood pressure, a seizure or loss of consciousness.
  • Take the medication at the same time each day.
  • Don’t increase, decrease or stop taking medication without talking to your doctor.
  • Don’t share your medication with anyone else.
  • Store your medications in a cool, dry, safe place out of reach from pets or children, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor/pharmacist.

If you or a family member is hurt due to a medication error, we are here to help. Our award-winning lawyers handle all accident cases on a contingency basis which means we only get paid if we win. Contact us online or give us a call at 615-742-4880 (Nashville) or 615-867-9900 (Murfreesboro) or 866-812-8787 (toll-free).

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