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Medication Reconciliation Reduces the Incidence of Dangerous Medication Errors

Adverse drug interactions account for approximately 700,000 emergency room visits and 100,000 hospitalizations annually. In fact, nearly 5% of hospitalized patients suffer from medication errors, putting them at the top of the list for inpatient errors. It is likely that outpatient medication errors are even higher. Contact a Boston Drug Injury Lawyer Today.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices keeps a list of medications with a high potential for error. These include drugs that have dangerous side-effects, as well as look-alike and sound-alike drugs that have similar names and /or appearances but entirely different properties. The biggest culprits, especially among geriatric patients, are antidiabetic agents (insulin), antiplatelet agents (aspirin), and a­­nticoagulants (warfarin). Combined, these drugs are responsible for nearly half of all medication error-related E.R. visits for Medicare patients.

Nearly one-third of American adults are on five or more medications, and that figure is likely to keep growing. The good news is, about half of all medication errors are preventable. Through a process called medication reconciliation, adverse drug events can be dramatically reduced by ensuring that new prescriptions don’t have negative interactions with medications you’re already taking. Even over-the-counter medications can result in dangerous drug interactions. For example, if you are prescribed a drug with high levels of acetaminophen (Tylenol), and you are simultaneously taking over-the-counter acetaminophen for a headache, you may unknowingly exceed the safe dosage. In this case, overdosing could result in liver damage. Some adverse events, such as liver damage from an overdose of acetaminophen, may gradually worsen over time. Other types of medication errors can result in emergency health complications, and even death.

What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor?

Proper medication reconciliation involves having a thorough conversation with your physician about the medications you are currently taking (over-the-counter, prescription, and vitamins). To significantly reduce your risk of medication errors, go to all medical appointments prepared with the questions below.

  • What is the drug for?
  • How long should I remain on the drug?
  • Should I avoid any food, drinks, or other medications while on this drug?
  • Does the drug have any side-effects?
  • What is the best method of storing the drug? Does it require refrigeration?
  • What should I do in the event of an actual overdose?
  • Will the drug interact with other medications I’m on?

In addition to asking the above questions when you are prescribed a new medication, it is also important to keep a list of your current medications on you at all times. In the event of an emergency, the list will inform medical professionals of the drugs you are on.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Drug Injury Lawyers Serving Boston and the Surrounding Areas

If you have been injured due to a medication error, the experienced drug injury lawyers at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. With over 50 years of experience helping accident and injury victims, our legal team has the knowledge and skill to help you win your case. We have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients, and we are proud to provide the highest level of representation available. If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a medical provider, medical device manufacturer, or pharmaceutical company, they should be held accountable for their actions. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free consultation about your case.