Medication Errors and How to Prevent

Medication Errors and How to Prevent

What is Medication Safety

Medication safety refers to the practices and measures taken to ensure that medications are used in a way that minimizes the risk of harm to patients. It involves a combination of healthcare professionals, patients, and systems working together to prevent medication errors, adverse drug reactions, and other medication-related problems.

Did you know that 10% of patients in hospitals are likely to suffer medical harm? Medication errors account for 50% of overall preventable harm, both in hospitals and at home. This could result in delayed cure, disability, or even death. You can avoid this with the right knowledge.

Everybody is at risk as we all take medicines at some point. People who travel, those under long illnesses, surgical and intensive care, or during emergencies.

Elderly population especially those taking multiple medications and people who are self-medicating or under home care.

Can you prevent medication errors?

You can reduce medication errors if you pay attention to the five stages of medication- Starting; Taking; Adding; Changing or Stopping .

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed tips to increase patient safety at all stages including prescription, procurement, or administration -

Click here to download poster

Specifically, you should take the following three steps to avoid medication errors -

  • KNOW the medications you are taking: Why are you taking them? What is the duration, proper dosage, and timing? What to do if you miss a dose?
  • CHECK your medicines : Before taking any medicine, it is crucial to check the composition of the salt, its expiry date, and storage conditions on the label.
  • ASK your doctor if you can stop the medicines because you are feeling better, or not finding them effective. What if you have side effects? Always inform your healthcare provider about any other medications or supplements you are taking to prevent potential interactions.

We can make several errors when taking medicines, including:

  • Skipping doses or Missing a prescribed dose can impact the effectiveness of the medication.
  • Incorrect dosage:  Taking more or less than the prescribed amount can lead to adverse effects or reduced efficacy. 
  • Inconsistent timing:  Not adhering to the recommended schedule for medication administration may affect its therapeutic benefits.
  • Not Following Instructions:  Ignoring specific instructions, such as taking medication with or without food, can impact absorption and efficacy.
  • Combining medications inappropriately  by not informing doctor about all our current medicines.
  • Ignoring side effects  or not reporting it to doctor can hinder timely adjustment plans. 
  • Discontinuing medication  without consulting doctor can have severe negative consequences. 
  • Not informing doctors  about changes in health, and lifestyle, or other medications can lead to inappropriate prescriptions.
  • Sharing prescribed medications:  We should avoid sharing prescribed medications, as it can lead to incorrect use and potential harm to others.