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5 ways to stay safe and avoid medication errors

When you turn to a doctor or other health care professional for treatment of a condition, you trust she or he has the knowledge and experience to come up with a successful treatment plan and prescribe you any medications that will help you feel better. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, and issues with medication are a big part of that. Before you blindly trust your health care professional or pharmacist to have your best interests in mind, educate yourself about what you should do to stay safe from medication errors.

1. Discuss all medications with your doctor

This is particularly important if you are seeing more than one doctor at a time. Discuss any medications you are currently taking, even over the counter drugs and vitamins. Some drugs have interactions that may completely surprise you, but your doctor should be able to check and make sure both medications are safe.

2. Organize your medications

If you take more than one medicine each day, it can be easy to confuse one or the other and take more than you need. Organize your prescribed medications in a pill organizer to ensure you only get what you need when you need it.

3. Do your own research

Never blindly take the word of another when it comes to your health care. If you are prescribed a new medication, ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable, and do your own research about drug interactions and possible problems you may face. Be aware of any side effects the medicine may cause.

4. Only take medications prescribed to you

Never share prescription medication with another person, no matter how desperate you are. If you need a drug, then you need to have a prescription in your name from your provider. Sharing drugs is against the law and can also lead to serious problems for those who do not understand medication interactions.

5. Keep medicine in its own bottle

You should never combine medication into one bottle or move the wrong pills to any empty bottle. Keep any prescription medication in the bottle it came in with all the tagging and information you need to know how to properly and safely take it.

Despite your best efforts, there may be times when your doctor prescribes you a medication that has lasting harmful effects. If you are dealing with a situation like this, we encourage you to immediately speak to an attorney with any questions you have immediately.