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Patients can be proactive in helping stop medication errors

There are procedures in place in hospitals to ensure that patients get the correct medication. However, patients in Colorado can also take control of their own health care by being aware of the medications they are taking and being honest about their use of over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements, vitamins and recreational drugs. These efforts and disclosures may help in preventing medication errors.

Another way patients can be proactive in helping themselves and their doctors is to keep a list of all medications being taken on a small card and carry it at all times. Having this information on hand is invaluable to caregivers and emergency room staff as it is an easy way for them to know what medications the patient is taking. This simple step can help avoid contraindicated or duplicate drugs from being administered.

Patients can further reduce the chances of being given the wrong medication in the hospital by speaking up and asking what drugs are being administered. It is also a good idea to bring medication bottles from home to the hospital. The nursing staff will handle administering any needed medications, but having the bottles is helpful in confirming frequency and dosage. If a patient experiences new symptoms or feels different, he or she should inform the nursing staff because the patient knows his or her own body the best and is consequently more attuned to adverse reactions. This type of communication is an important part of a positive outcome.

Even the most diligent patient, however, can become a victim of an egregious medication error. When medication errors happen in a hospital or other medical setting, the outcome can be devastating for the patient. A knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney may be able to review the case and assist with obtaining a reasonable settlement or prepare the case for trial.

Source: Cortez Journal.com,"Patient safety is hot topic in healthcare," Feb. 22, 2013

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