Every year thousands of patients in Minnesota and throughout the rest of the country deal with a medication error. According to Mayo Clinic, this refers to any preventable event that occurs because a medication is used inappropriately. If a medication error causes harm, they are referred to as preventable adverse drug effects. If there was no harm, it is referred to as a potential adverse drug effect.

Medication errors are not always the fault of the person taking them. They can happen at your house, in the pharmacy or hospital or in a nursing home or senior living facility. Because they require different doses of medications than adults do, kids are particularly at risk for medication errors.

These errors occur for many reasons, but the most common reasons include the following:

  • Poor communication between a patient and their doctor
  • Poor communication between different doctors when you are seeing more than one
  • Medications that appear the same or drug names that sound similar
  • Medical abbreviations

While medication errors are rarely the fault of the patient, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from these harmful events. In this situation, the best way to defend yourself is with more knowledge. Always ask your doctor what the medication does and how long you should take it before you can expect to see results. Discuss the generic name of the medication and what your dosage is. Ask what you should do if you miss a dose or if you accidentally take more than you are supposed to. Request any possible side effects of the medication and what you should do if you have them.

One final way to protect yourself from medication errors is to keep your health care providers up to date on any new medications you are taking or procedures you have undergone. Sharing information is an important part of keeping your body safe.

This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.