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Preventing medication errors in 5 steps

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, four out of five adults in Colorado and across the U.S. take prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs or supplements at least once a week. In fact, a third of adults take five or more medications at the same time. Without the proper precautions, this can lead to a medication mistake that leads to a dangerous adverse drug event. The five tips below are meant to prevent this from happening.

First, patients must use all medication correctly and do nothing without a doctor or pharmacist approving it (for example, cutting pills). Never chew non-chewable pills or measure out a dosage using ordinary silverware. Second, they should know what the right dosage is to begin with. The amount will differ for children and adults. A third tip is to correlate that dosage to weight and height. Patients should be especially honest about their weight.

It's also recommended that patients keep a thorough list of the medications they are already taking. A doctor can consult this before prescribing anything. Patients may also try to use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions. The last tip is to schedule follow-up appointments with their doctors. Some adverse drug effects, such as damage to the liver, can only be identified with lab testing.

Patients cannot prevent all medication errors, of course, because some are caused by the negligence of doctors and pharmacists. When there is a clear case of malpractice, however, a victim may want to see a lawyer about their chances of succeeding with a claim. Malpractice claims can end in some of the highest settlements in the field of personal injury law, so there is bound to be strong opposition to any claim. A lawyer may help build up the case and negotiate a settlement.

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