People in Minnesota and elsewhere may be prescribed medications or take over-the-counter drugs at the direction of their physicians for the treatment of numerous conditions and ailments. All too common, however, medication errors occur and result in injury, worsened condition and even death for patients. According to the Mayo Clinic, hundreds of thousands of people suffer injuries across the U.S. each year as a result of these preventable adverse drug events.

Medication errors, sometimes referred to as preventable adverse drug events, are mistakes that occur during the prescribing, dispensing, administering or monitoring of prescription or over-the-counter drugs. This includes giving or taking the wrong medication, taking medications at the same time that have dangerous interactions or taking more than the recommended dosage of a medication.

One of the most common factors contributing to medications errors is poor communication. The breakdown may be between people’s health care providers, including their doctors and pharmacists, or between the patients themselves and their physicians. This may result in them being on different pages regarding a patient’s treatment.

Doctors are notoriously recognized for often having difficult-to-read handwriting. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, confused or misunderstood writing is a frequent cause of medication errors. Uncertainties regarding medical abbreviations and product names may also lead to preventable adverse drug events.

Patient misuse is also a common cause of medication errors. Often, however, this does not occur on purpose. Rather, it is the result of an inadequate understanding of the appropriate use and administration techniques for certain medications. For example, some drugs are formulated to be chewed up, instead of swallowed whole. Chewing up other medications, on the other hand, may cause an adverse reaction or decrease their effectiveness.