When you see a doctor or end up in the hospital in New Mexico, you put extensive trust in someone else to care for you. Because you cannot know all the medications, diagnoses and prescriptions, it is important that your health care providers know what they are doing. Unfortunately, medication errors are all too common and can lead to serious injury if not caught early.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a medication error is any mistake in giving, dispensing and prescribing medication and thousands of people in the United States are injured each year from them. While these errors can happen anywhere, there are several common reasons that medication errors occur, and kids are especially vulnerable to them. The most common reasons for medication errors include the following:

  • Poor communication between the doctor and the patient
  • Poor communication between doctors if you are seeing more than one
  • Medications that look similar and drug names that sound similar
  • Medical abbreviations

While you cannot possibly learn about the chemical reactions of each drug or be your own pharmacist, one of the major ways you can avoid these risks is by learning as much about the medication as you can. When you are prescribed a medication, ask for the generic or brand name of the medication. Question how long it will be before you see results and what it is supposed to do. Know how long you should take the medication and what the dose is. The following are additional questions to ask before taking a medication:

  • Will a new medication interfere with any other medication you are currently taking?
  • What are the side effects and what should you do if they occur?
  • Are there any activities, medications, drinks or food you should avoid while taking it?
  • What should you do if you miss a dose or accidentally take more than you are supposed to?

Armed with knowledge about the medication, the dosage and the side effects, you can help decrease your risk of being a victim of a medication error. There are times when these things may slip by you and your healthcare professionals are responsible for the error.

This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.