Does Your Medicine Make You Sick?

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The word medicine goes hand in hand with feeling better, or better yet, a cure. But what if the precise thing that is meant to improve your health is actually affecting it in a bad way? Events such as prescription errors may be viewed as the exception not the rule, but research has shown that they are all too common. 

A study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that in hospitals, errors occur at every step of medical care.  But they are most frequent during prescribing or administering the medication.  The study found that a hospital patient may expect on average one medication error a day.

Emergency rooms and New York hospitals are quite frequently overloaded, leaving the doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel understaffed and overworked. The long shifts that are required, combined with the general rigors of the industry, can wear on individuals and cause them to make medical errors.

These mistakes can cause serious harm, permanent disability and even fatal injury to a patient. When this happens, the patient and their loved ones are left to wonder how such flagrant errors could pass by so many medical professionals and still remain undetected time and time again.

A report by the Consumers Union indicates that prescription errors are just as common nowadays as they were ten years ago. A decade old study by the Institute of Medicine produced alarming information that medication mistakes within hospitals ordinarily occur once per day. What is even more disturbing is the fact that these averages are attributed per patient, not for the entire hospital. According to the Consumers Union’s findings, the errors are still as rampant today as they have always been. As such, patients are encouraged to be cognizant of the growing issue in an attempt to lessen incidences of error.

Being vigilant is the best way to prevent mistakes.  Provide your doctor with a complete record of all prescription and over the counter medicines you take.  When you have the prescription filled, make certain you are given information on the drug, its interaction with other medicines, and its dosage.  If you go to a new doctor, take a list of all medicines and supplements you take as well as the strength and frequency of doses.

If you are having a prescription refilled, check the medicine carefully, make sure it is the correct dosage and that it looks the same as what you received previously.  If the medication does not look like what you have been taking, check with the pharmacist.  It could appear different because pharmacies do change suppliers of generic medicine.  

One of the best ways to fight mistakes is to be aware they can happen.  Asking questions, reading all of the information about the drug, and visually inspecting it are some of the ways to help prevent errors.  Your doctor and pharmacist are valuable sources of information don't hesitate to ask them questions. Record keeping is also a vital tool in keeping track of medications.

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