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Medication mistakes threaten patients' lives

Medication errors are some of the easiest to miss but have the potential to be life-threatening. Medication mistakes range from being given the wrong dose to taking the wrong medication completely. Around one out of every 1,000 prescriptions is wrong in some way, which means that patients are under threat every day.

As a patient, you can make sure you don't end up ill by talking to your doctor about your medications. Talk to him or her about the name and what it's for. When you speak to a pharmacist, clarify that the drug is what it is supposed to be and in the dose you were expecting. Clarify that it won't interact with any of your current medications with your medical provider and the pharmacist; it's better to ask too many questions than to end up with serious injuries.

Another thing to look out for is an allergic reaction. As a patient, it's vital that you know the difference between an allergy and side effect. Side effects may be mild, moderate or severe. Some are life-threatening. Know what to look for, so you can report symptoms as soon as they occur. If you're not sure about a symptom you're having, be safe and call for clarification.

Finally, remember that medications have multiple names and designs. If you're on a brand-name medication as well as a generic, make sure you're not taking two of the same thing. For example, alprazolam is the generic form of Xanax; taking more than a recommended dose could result in serious side effects.

If you are hurt because of an incorrect medication being given to you, know that you have rights. Errors put you in danger and never should have happened.

Source: Harvard Health Publishing, "Protect yourself from medication mix-ups," Dec. 26, 2017

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