Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 million people are injured each year by medication mistakes, according to the Institute of Medicine. At least one quarter of these are preventable. The following are some tips to help make sure that you are as safe as you can be when taking a new or existing medication:
1. Make a list of the medications, both prescription and nonprescription, dietary supplements, and any vitamins that you take. Keep the list current and take it with you when you visit a doctor.
2. When you get a prescription from a doctor, ensure that he writes down the dose, the name of the drug, and instructions for its use. When you actually get the prescription filled, ensure that the instructions on the bottle match those from the doctor.
3. Be informed. Get as much information, from both the pharmacist and your doctor, regarding usage and side effects as you can.
4. Most prescription medications come with informational pamphlets. If yours doesn’t, ask the pharmacist for one.
5. Be involved in the process. In the hospital, especially before surgery, ask the doctor about potential harmful drug interactions. Are there any drugs you should stop taking, and when should you stop them. Also, you have the right to appoint a medical surrogate to make decisions for you, should you be incapacitated. This includes the right to have the surrogate present and informed whenever you are given medication.
6. Be aware. If your pills look different after a refill, DO NOT assume the manufacturer has changed the shape or color.
All too often, when we are at the pharmacist or the doctor’s office, we go along with attempts to shuttle us out the door after a very brief communication. Resist the urge to simply take the meds and go. If there is something you do not understand, ask questions until you do. Try not to make any assumptions about advice or medications. Above all, get the facts. You want to feel better and your doctor or pharmacist wants to help you in doing so. Putting another set of eyes on a problem never hurt anyone so why not do more to ensure you safety and well being is maintained. We should all be working to reduce medical mistakes and these tips can help ensure you do not become just another statistic.
A partner with Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC,, Brandon Smith has devoted his practice to pharmaceutical litigation, mass torts, products liability and serious personal injury. A frequent guest speaker at legal seminars all over the country—Brandon is focused on helping injured victims nationwide, however possible. Named a SuperLawyer in 2017, he has also been called out as one of 10 Best Attorneys For Georgia by the American Institute Of Personal Injury Attorneys.