Preventing Medication Errors

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medicationCommunication and knowledge are your best defenses against medication errors. Medication errors can happen at various points along the process: prescribing, dispensing and administration. According to the American Medical Association (citation) 39% of errors occur during the prescribing process. The elderly are at the greatest risk for prescribing errors because they have more than one prescribing physician and more medications.


How can you protect yourself and your family from prescribing errors?


  • Take an active role in your healthcare.
  • Make a list of all of your current medications, including any supplements, vitamins and over the counter medications. Update this list with new doses, allergies, and sensitivities.
  • Bring your current complete medication list to healthcare appointment, asking them to compare this to your record on file.
  • Store a current list of your medications, allergies and physician contacts in a location accessible to a friend or family member.
  • Get your medications from one pharmacy to prevent taking medications with similar properties or that may interact with each other.


The American Medical Association reports that 39% of medication errors happen during medication administration process.

How can you protect yourself and your family from medication administration errors?

  • Know the name, type, reason for each medication.
  • Understand all of the instructions – how to take the medicine, time to take it, frequency, dose, and route.
  • Read all of the warnings, possible drug interactions, and food/drinks to avoid. Consult your pharmacist and review your entire medication list or contact the prescribing doctor with any questions or concerns.
  • Know how to properly store your medications, and how to dispose of expired or discontinued medications.
  • Store your medications in their original, labeled containers.
  • Remember to take you medication(s), using a calendar, pill box, and medication list.
  • Take your medicine when doing a daily action, such as at meal time.



How do I know when it is time to seek assistance with medications?


  • Missed medications.
  • Disorganization or lack of a system for taking medications.
  • Vision loss.
  • Complicated medication regimen.


If you or someone you know needs assistance with their medications please talk to a doctor or pharmacist and consider a consultation with a professional care manager.

For additional information consider these resources.

Medication Errors: Cut your risk with these tips – Mayo Clinic


Medication Errors a Big Problem After Hospital Discharge – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publications



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