Medicine is supposed to help, not harm. Unfortunately, medication errors happen all the time, and patients pay the price.

Some of the most common medication errors have been discussed again and again in medical circles and among pharmacists. They include things like:

  • Processing errors (one patient’s medication is put into another patient’s bag)
  • Dosage errors (the pharmacist, doctor or nurse misreads a decimal point)
  • Like-name errors (a patient is given a wrong drug with a similar name to the right one)
  • Alert-fatigue errors (a provider overlooks an alert in a patient’s chart about an allergy)

If you’re a patient, you’re at risk every time you receive medication in a hospital or pick up a prescription at your pharmacy.

Is there anything you can do? Yes, you can protect yourself better if you remember these tips:

  • Know your drug allergies. When you’re given an unfamiliar drug, make sure to cross-reference the new drug with your allergies. If you aren’t 100% sure a drug is safe for you to take, ask the nurse, doctor or pharmacist to check.
  • Know your medications. Make sure that you know exactly what medications you take, what dosage they should be and why you take them. If a dose doesn’t seem right, the pill looks different than usual or the medication’s name on the bottle isn’t an exact match with what you were prescribed, don’t take it until you know what is going on.
  • Never assume that a provider “knows what they are doing.” If you’re in a hospital, it’s tempting to just swallow whatever pills they put in your cup and hand your way, but you shouldn’t. Examine the pills closely. Again, if you don’t recognize something you’ve been given, ask questions.

Medication errors can have a devastating effect on a victim’s health. If you were injured due to a medication error or a loved one was killed, it’s time to find out more about your right to compensation.