Preventing Medication Errors

The Joint Commission reports that medication errors are the most common healthcare mistakes in U.S. hospitals today. At MPS, we are reminding patients they can help their caregivers prevent medication errors by:

  • Making sure their doctor knows about all the medications (including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements like vitamins) they are now taking.
  • Telling their physician of allergies or adverse reactions they have had to medicines.
  • Asking about the medicines being prescribed.
    • What are they for?
    • How are they to be taken? For how long?
    • What are the side effects? What should be done if they occur?
    • Is the medicine safe if taken with other medicines or over-the-counter drugs?
    • What (if any) are the side effects? How long will they last?
    • Should any food, drinks or activities be avoided while taking the prescribed medicine?
  • Being sure they can read a doctor's prescription. (If the patient can't read the prescription, the pharmacist might not be able to read it either.)
  • (For those receiving a drug in their vein) asking their nurse how long it should take for the liquid to run out. Through It's OK to Ask, we are letting our patients know it's okay to tell their nurse if it appears to be dripping either too fast or too slow.
  • Patients who don't recognize a medication should ask that it be verified that it is for them. Patients should also ask about medications before swallowing, and read the contents of bags of intravenous fluids. Patients who aren't well enough to do this are encouraged to ask a friend or family member to do this for them.