If you are like most people, you likely take one or more prescription medications. These medications are supposed to alleviate your symptoms or contribute to healing the condition you are suffering from. However, if your doctor or another health care professional prescribes the wrong drug, the right drug in the wrong dosage or two drugs that negatively interact with each other, these same medications can make you sicker than ever or even kill you. 

Medication errors can occur in several ways, but the most common ones result from one or more of the following: 

  • Miscommunication or insufficient communication between and among your health care providers 
  • Miscommunication or insufficient communication between you and your health care providers 
  • Confusing two or more drugs with similar sounding names 
  • Confusing two or more drugs with similar appearances 
  • Taking an over-the-counter drug that contains some of the same ingredients as your prescription medication(s) 
  • Failing to carefully read a medication’s label as to when and how much you should take, plus whether you should take it with or without food 

Talking with your doctor or pharmacist

Whenever you visit a new physician or other health care professional, you should always advise him or her of the following to lessen the chances of a medication error: 

  • Whether or not you are allergic to any medication(s) 
  • Whether or not you have a chronic health condition 
  • Whether or not you are pregnant or attempting to get pregnant 
  • A complete list of the vaccines you have received 
  • A complete list of the medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that you currently take 
  • A complete list of the supplements, vitamins, herbs, etc. that you currently take 

You could also check with your pharmacist as well as your doctor before taking a prescribed mediation, to guard against side effects or other errors. You, not your doctor, represent your best line of defense against medication errors. As with all other health care issues, it is wise to become your own advocate and watchdog when taking prescription medications.