Maybe a recent medical malpractice scare left you extra vigilant regarding your medical care. If you take prescription medication, what do you know about medication errors?

The Mayo Clinic explains how medication has as much potential to hurt as it does to heal. Learn how to do your part in ensuring you take the right medication and take it correctly.

Reasons for medication errors

Patients and physicians alike bear the blame for prescription errors. Doctors may fail to communicate with each other properly, or you may fail to communicate with your doctor properly. Pharmacists may bear the blame, and medication abbreviations can confuse healthcare professionals. Mistakes can also happen with drugs that look or sound alike.

Preventing medication errors

Well-informed patients help prevent medication errors. Questions you can ask

your doctor and pharmacist to ensure you take your prescription properly include:

  • “What should I avoid eating, drinking or doing while on this medication?”
  • “Do you have the generic and brand names for this prescription?”
  • “How should the medication help my condition? How long do I have to wait until I experience results?”

Essentially, get as much information as possible about your prescribed medication, especially if you do not understand something your doctor or pharmacist said.

Medication reconciliation to prevent medication errors

Medical reconciliation is another method of avoiding medication errors. This strategy is ideal for patients on multiple medications. The way it works is your doctor has a list of each medication you take and compares it with each prescription she or he has, always ensuring both lists are current. The goal of medication reconciliation is helping you avoid dosing mistakes, missing doses, taking the same medication and harmful medication interactions.

Should you ever suspect a medication error while receiving treatment, take immediate action. You deserve to protect your health and your rights.