How patients can protect themselves from prescription errors

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2023 | Medical Malpractice, Medication Errors |

People place a lot of trust in healthcare practitioners, largely due to their extensive training and oath to do no harm. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that even these highly skilled professionals can occasionally make mistakes. Medication or dosage errors are unfortunately common and can have severe or fatal implications for patients.

As a person seeking medical treatment, it’s only natural to trust your doctors, but taking an active role in your care may vastly improve your health and experience.

How prescription errors happen

Prescription errors can arise from oversights and inconsistencies within the prescribing process. Such mistakes can result in:

  • Prescribing the incorrect medication, dosage, schedule or method of administration
  • Supplying the prescription to the wrong patient
  • Failing to prescribe an essential drug

Though they are unintentional, these preventable mistakes can endanger patients. Among the common factors contributing to prescription errors are:

  • Poor handwriting
  • Incomplete or incorrect information about the patient’s previous treatments, allergies or lab results
  • Complicated regimens
  • Drugs with similar-sounding names
  • Miscommunication between the patient and healthcare practitioner
  • Organization issues such as understaffing and lack of checks and balance

To mitigate the risks, patients can strive to be more engaged in their healthcare journey.

Take charge of your health

It is easy to assume that healthcare practitioners have all the information they need, but this is not always the case. To avoid receiving the incorrect prescription, patients should inform their doctors during visits about all medications they are currently taking as well as any allergies or reactions to drugs.

Keeping a health journal is a simple and efficient approach for individuals to keep their doctor informed about their condition, treatment and symptoms.

Before leaving an appointment, patients should repeat their prescription back to their doctor and ask about any unclear points. Overcoming any reluctance to clarify things can lead to a better understanding of their treatment.

Numerous studies suggest a compelling link between patients who take part in decisions involving their care and better outcomes. By understanding your healthcare journey, you can empower yourself to be your own advocate, speak up and take action when necessary.