When you visit a doctor, and they give you a prescription, you assume it is for the correct drug and dosage. Yet, sometimes this is not the case.
Not all our bodies are the same. A dose of strong painkillers that works fine for your 23-year-old cousin, who is built like a tank, might kill your 85-year-old granny, who is mostly skin and bone. In addition, you might react badly to specific drugs, and some drugs may be incompatible with medications you are already taking. Doctors and pharmacists are supposed to watch out for medication errors. Despite all of the advanced controls and automated warnings, however, medication mistakes continue to be a problem.
Why do medication errors occur?
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) compiled a report on why doctors and other healthcare professionals make prescription errors. Here are two of the most common reasons:
- Data entry errors: The systems doctors use to issue prescriptions use predictive text and codes to speed things up. Yet, this can make it easier to enter the wrong thing. Those entering data on behalf of a doctor may also mishear the doctors’ instructions. With more doctors outsourcing the transcription of their notes, this is an increasing problem.
- Mix-ups with look-alike products: If the original prescription is correct, the pharmacist might still dispense the wrong product. Or a nurse might select the wrong drug to administer off the shelf. There are only so many ways to design a drug container and only so many different colors of caps available for pill bottles. One blue-capped bottle can look similar to another, despite the contents being very different.
It pays to double-check your medication before taking it and ask if you have any doubts. Yet, you are not the one earning money as a medical expert, so you might not notice. If you have suffered harm due to a medication error, it is crucial to understand your options to claim compensation for your losses.