Prescription drug errors are unfortunately too common. They can also cause serious harm to people, and in some cases, the harm caused by prescription errors is more severe than the condition being treated. Because of these risks, it’s vital for doctors to take the proper precautions to reduce the likelihood of mistakes. GPOnline.com makes the following recommendations to protect patients from preventable injuries.
The old joke about the illegibility of a doctor’s handwriting can have real-world implications. For instance, when a doctor writes down the name of a drug that looks similar to another type of medicine, it’s very easy for the pharmacy filling the order to make a mistake. Accordingly, doctors should take care to write the name of the drug as clearly as possible. They should also use the medication’s generic name to further avoid confusion.
Even when patients are receiving the correct prescriptions, there is also a risk of an adverse reaction to a drug the person is already taking. Some drugs, including over the counter medications, can increase the risk of side effects for those taking prescribed medication. This illustrates the importance of taking a patient’s current medical history, including any supplements or vitamins a person is taking. Only after this information is received should a prescription be provided.
Finally, even if a hospital has a computer system for filling in prescriptions, staff should still take the time to check entries to ensure they’re correct. Typos or other errors in the generated prescriptions may be overlooked by multiple people, including the patient. It’s also important that anyone using this system to fill prescriptions is properly trained on how to use the software.