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Medical providers need to take steps to avoid medication errors

According to the ECRI Institute for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority (PPSA), doctors often prescribe medications before being aware that the patient is also taking another medication that may result in an adverse reaction. Unfortunately, it was also reported that such medication errors involved controlled substances that could lead to more severe consequences.

The PPSA has proposed 11 strategies that healthcare providers could implement to prevent such medication errors from occurring. Most of these strategies involve establishment of procedures and protocol, and putting into place a tracking system to provide a history of medications taken by the particular patient.

A frequent mistake of doctors and medical staff is to assume that patients are on the same page when it comes to the taking of medications at home. Patients need to be educated as well, and imprecise instructions concerning the taking of medications can lead to mix-ups or wrong dosages being taken of one medication or the other. And there are certain patients that should not be allowed to self-administer simply because they do not understand the procedures or the consequences.

Also, patients may be prescribed new medications without being instructed what to do with the former medications still in their possession. Too many patients feel they need to finish up an old prescription before moving onto a new one.

Because medication errors are one of the most frequent medical mistakes made, more medical malpractice lawsuits are being brought by attorneys due to medication mix ups. The reason why such errors occur is not complicated. Medication errors should not be occurring if medical facilities have in place the proper procedures.

Source: Med City News, "11 ways healthcare providers can avoid medication errors," by Stephanie Baum, September 6, 2012

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