Medication Errors: 5 Ways to Protect Your Loved Ones

If you have an elderly loved one who is taking medication, make sure you understand how you can keep them safe.

Medication errors and medical mistakes are currently the third-leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, a recent Johns Hopkins University medical study shows that at least 250,000 Americans die each year due to these mistakes. Note that other studies estimate the number is as high as 440,000. These numbers are quite staggering, and it's no surprise that medication errors are a cause for alarm among all Americans. If you have a loved one in the United States who is currently being treated for a medical condition, it's important that you understand the risks associated with medication mistakes. More importantly, you need to understand exactly how you can help reduce the chances of your loved one experiencing a medication error. Here's what you need to know.

1. Ask your doctor what each medication is for.

If you're present for medical visits and appointments, talk with your loved one's physician about each medication they prescribe. Ask how much of each medication your relative needs to take. Discuss what the medication looks like. Ask what it's used to treat. Write down as much as possible so that you'll be able to have clear notes that detail what your loved one will be taking. You may also want to ask about potential side effects, as these can sometimes be tricky to identify.

2. Double-check the dosage information.

When you pick up your loved one's prescription, double check the dosage information. What does the label on the bottle say? Does it match what's printed on the bag? Does this seem like it lines up with what the doctor said they're prescribing? It's important to make sure that the dosage information is correctly printed so that your loved one receives the correct amount of medication.

3. Talk with the pharmacist.

One of your most valuable assets when it comes to protecting your loved one is your local pharmacist. When you pick up medication, make sure you consult with the pharmacist. Double-check to make sure the prescribed medication is a good match for your loved one. You can also ask questions about side effects and medication interactions.

4. Read the label.

Always double-check the label. It will describe what the medication should look like. If there's some sort of discrepancy, double-check with the pharmacy before you help your loved one take their medication. The label will tell you the color, shape, and size of the medication included.

5. Report side effects immediately.

Should your family member develop side effects to a medication, report it promptly to their physician. The doctor can discuss the type of side effect, as well as the frequency of symptoms. They may choose to prescribe an alternative medication for your family member.

If you believe your loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice or a pharmacy error, make sure you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible who can help you during this time. The right lawyer can evaluate your case and discuss your options with you promptly.

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