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Informed Patients Can Help Prevent Medication Errors: Five Key Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Medication errors injure more than one million people a year in the United States. As San Diego medical malpractice lawyers, we know that mistakes can occur at any step of the process, including prescribing, dispensing, and administering medications.

To reduce the risk, patients should take an active role in their medications. The most important thing patients can do is keep an active list of all of their medications, including over-the-counter medicines, supplements and prescribed medications. This list should be provided to all of your health care professionals, including your primary care physician, dentist, and any specialists.

In addition, any time you are prescribed a new medication, you should make sure you completely understand why you need it and how it should be administered. Key questions to ask include:

  • What is the name of the medication and is a generic available?
  • What condition(s) will the medication treat?
  • How and when should the medication be taken?
  • How long is the course of treatment, and must the medication be re-filled?
  • What side effects may occur and when should they be reported to the doctor?

When receiving emergency treatment, patients should also consider appointing a family member to oversee their medical care and any medications administered. A recent study revealed that critical care patients are twice as likely to receive the incorrect medication. Even more concerning, 20 percent of these errors are life threatening, while 42 percent require additional life-sustaining treatments.

If you or someone you love has suffered from a medication error that resulted in harm, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.