How can doctors prevent medication errors?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2021 | blog

You trust in your doctor to develop safe, effective treatments for illness and injury. However, mistakes can and do happen, especially when it comes to prescribing medication.

According to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, wrong doses and a lack of information are among the most common causes of prescription errors. While there are systems that can prevent many of these mistakes, doctors are also urged to take the following steps.

Write prescriptions legibly

Doctors are definitely under a lot of pressure during the day, but they must still ensure their handwriting is legible and easy to understand. Prescriptions go through many hands from the time the physician writes them to when the pharmacy fills them. That leaves lots of opportunities for errors, which will impact you, the patient.

Avoid using abbreviations

Many doctors abbreviate prescriptions to save time when tending to patients. Common abbreviations are often mistaken for other orders, which leaves the patient vulnerable to illness and injury. For example, O.D. can mean daily doses of a drug, or it can refer to the right eye (oculus dexter). M.S. is also problematic, as it can mean multiple sclerosis, muscle strength, mental status, and many other phrases. Writing out complete words and phrases takes more time, but it ensures accuracy.

Take caution with potentially fatal drugs

Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs and potassium chloride, carry a higher risk of serious injury or even fatality when administered incorrectly. Doctors must use extra caution when prescribing these and similar medications. Checking and re-checking drug orders is a must to prevent serious effects from occurring.

While it is ultimately up to your doctor to provide medication correctly, there are also steps patients can take. Ask questions about medications when receiving them, especially when it comes to side effects and adverse reactions. If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor or pharmacist for clarification.

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