Whether it is your first time getting a prescription or if it is a refill, patients in Montana and elsewhere should always be aware of what medication they are getting and what risks they pose. In most cases, various medications are not harmful in small doses. However, if a patient were administered a high dose, a relatively harmless medication could become lethal. Medication errors can take many forms and impact patients in hospitals and medical clinics throughout the nation. Therefore, it is important to understand ways to reduce this type of medical mistake.

How can patients reduce the chances of medication errors? The first thing that patients need to do is increase their awareness. Medication errors are increasing and, according to a recent study, 4.87 errors occur for every 100,000 medication orders.

Increasing awareness also causes patients to consider the need for the prescriptions he or she is being prescribed. Because the average hospital patient receives between nine and ten medications, a solution to medication errors would be limiting the medications a patient is receiving. If a medication is not imperative or necessary, receiving less medications would certainly reduce the chances of an error occurring.

Every time a medication is prescribed to a patient, there are always five “rights” that must be met. This includes the right patient, the right drug, the right dose, the right route and the right time. If one of these “rights” is not met, this could easily result in a harmful error to the patient.

Lastly, a patient has the right to knowledge, and knowledge is key when it comes to reducing medication errors. Knowing what is prescribed, in what dose and for what reasons helps a patient assess the need to take the medication, refill the medication and double check the bottle before taking the medication.

The problem with medication errors is that negligence could happen at any phase, resulting in the wrong medication or the wrong dose being administered to a patient. If a patient is harmed by a medication error, it is important to note that it is possible to seek recourse. A medical malpractice claim could help the patient cover expenses and damages arising from the incident.

Source: Heavy.com, “Medication Errors on the Rise: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Larry Alton, October 14, 2015