Preventing Medication Errors

Preventing Medication Errors

Managing prescriptions can be a complicated process. Each doctor that you see has a different way of dispensing the medications that you are taking. With more and more medications added to your roster for varying health issues, how can you make sure that you keep them all organized?

After all, your heart doctor, eye doctor, hip or knee doctor, and general physician may not be able to see all of he medications that you are taking.

It’s important to know how each medication interacts with the other and to keep each doctor informed of any changes in your prescriptions.

Top Tips to Prevent Paperwork and Prescription Errors

Let the doctor know what medicines and supplements you are taking and when. You should have a list of all of your medications and supplements, how much of each you are taking, and how often. Keep an extra copy or two to share with your doctor for his or her records. Make notes of when the prescription was changed and how much it was changed to. This way, you will have a complete history in front of you instead of relying on someone else’s computer notes.

Know when to ask the doctor for alternatives to prescriptionsSeniors and their family members need to know that a common class of drugs called anticholinergics can cause dementia symptoms, psychosis, and other health problems in people over 65, even if they never had problems with such medicines when they were younger. Be sure to ask your physician if you’re unsure if the medication you’ve been prescribed is anticholinergic.

Tell the doctor about any adverse reactions from generics or specific medicines. This will enable your doctor to navigate you to the right medicine that works for your body. Also keep a personal record of this.

It is a common problem that the pharmacists can’t read what the doctor has written on the prescription. It happens on an every day basis.

You should ask your doctor for the content that you can’t read. Three main questions to remember in this case are:

  1. What the medicine is for?
  2. How often to take the medicine?
  3. Is there anything unusual in connection with this medicine in your case?

You must tell the pharmacist if the prescription has been changed. Doctors typically send over the latest information automatically but it may take a while for the pharmacy to see it on their side.

Pharmacists DO get the prescription wrong sometimes. So, always check to make sure you received the right dosage and strength level. Also, many pharmacies automatically fill prescriptions with generics. If you are unable to use generics, ensure that the doctor writes “No generics” on the prescription so that you can show your pharmacist that you are only allowed to take the branded item.

Your health is your most important priority.

Although doctors and pharmacists do their best to keep up with you, it is ultimately up to you to ensure that your doctors are in the loop on what you are taking, how much of it, and how often. In order for them to be able to rely on your word, it’s good practice to keep your health diary up to date at all times. This may also help your loved one in case an emergency happens and the doctors need to know what medications you are already taking.

Senior Advisor's knowledgeable writers blog about senior care services, trends and more.

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