Medication errors are the number one patient safety problem in America. By working together, we can ensure the right medication and the right dose is delivered every time.
- Know what you are taking. Educate yourself about the medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care mistakes.
- Ask about the purpose of the medication. Request written information about it, including its brand and generic names. Also inquire about the side effects of the medication.
- If you do not recognize a medication, verify that it is for you. Ask about oral medications before swallowing, and if you are given intravenous (IV) fluids, read the contents of bag. If you're not well enough to do this, ask your advocate to do this.
- Take note of what time of day you normally receive medication. If it doesn't happen, bring this to the attention of your doctor or nurse.
- If you are given an IV, ask the nurse how long it should take for the liquid to "run out'. Tell the nurse if it doesn't seem to be dripping properly (that is too fast or too slow).
- Whenever you are going to receive a new medication, tell your doctors and nurses about allergies you have, including negative reactions you have had to medications in the past.
- If you are taking multiple medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to take those medications together. This holds true for vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counter drugs, too.
When you leave the hospital with a prescription written by your doctor, make sure you can read the handwriting. If you can't read it, the pharmacist may not be able to either.