As many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in hospitals in the United States every year as a result of medical errors, and many more suffer serious or permanent injuries as a result of preventable medical errors. While many people rely on the knowledge and expertise of their health care providers to assure their safety while receiving medical treatment, we can be our own advocates in effectively reducing the possibility that we will be the victims of a medical error.
To start, we must become active members of our health care team in making the medical decisions affecting our health care. Ask questions why a particular regimen of treatment was selected and what other alternatives are available (and if the alternatives were considered and why they were rejected).
Make sure your doctor knows all the medications you are taking, including not only prescription medications but over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbs as well. It is a good idea to periodically bring your medications with you to your doctor’s appointment so that your doctor can review the medications, dosages, and possible interactions and side effects with you. Make sure your doctor knows about all of your allergies and any adverse reactions that you have had to medications in the past.
When you are given a prescription for a new medication, ask your doctor what the medicine is for, how you are supposed to take it and when, how long you are supposed to take the medication, what are the possible side effects and adverse reactions that may occur, whether the medication is safe to take with your other medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbs, what foods, liquids, and activities you should avoid while taking the medication, and whether you should take the medication with or without food. When you pick up the new medication from the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to confirm that the medication you are receiving is the medication that your doctor prescribed (and read the information you receive with the new medication before taking the medication – if you have any questions, contact your pharmacist or your doctor). Make sure you know how much of the medication to take, how often you are to take it, and when (for example, does “take three times daily” mean a dose every 8 hours or three times during waking hours). A study found that 88% of medicine errors involved the wrong drug or the wrong dose – when it comes to your health, the only dumb question is the one that is not asked.
If you or a loved one suffered injury as a result of a medical error involving medications, let us assist you free of any charge to you to find a local medical malpractice lawyer to help you investigate your claim by clicking here or calling us toll free at 800-295-3959.