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Protect yourself from medication errors in the hospital

Medication errors are a common problem, whether you end up taking the wrong drug or too much of the right drug.

Unfortunately, you can’t afford to relax your guard against medication errors even when you’re in the hospital. To guard against dangerous or fatal drug errors, take a proactive approach. The following suggestions can help you avoid many potential medication errors.

1. Carry a list of your medications with you.

Include all your vitamins and supplements on the list, and make sure that you indicate the dosage you take for each drug. Make a copy for the hospital to keep.

2. Include a list of all drug allergies.

On a second piece of paper, list all your drug allergies, including the reaction you have. Make sure that the intake nurse makes note of any allergies you list.

3. Do not automatically swallow anything.

If the nurse hands you a dose of medication, don’t let yourself be rushed into taking it without looking. Check out the pills you’ve been handed. If they don’t look familiar, ask the nurse to identify them for you before you take them. Make sure you do this every time you are given a dose of medication, not just the first time.

4. Ask about shots or IV drugs.

Before you allow a nurse to administer any medication by syringe or IV, find out what is in the needle or bag! Ask the nurse to read you the label to make sure that it’s whatever drug you are expecting.

5. Take a relative or friend with you.

If you’re too sick to be vigilant for your own sake, take someone with you who can. A relative or friend can ensure that you receive the right medication and keep you safe from harm!

Finally, if something seems wrong, don’t stay silent. Speaking up may save your life. Medication errors in hospitals aren’t simple mistakes. They’re serious instances of medical malpractice. If you’ve been injured, an attorney can help you explore your legal options.