5 Must-Do Rules for Preventing Medication Mistakes
How to protect yourself in advance from drug interactions
If 1.5 million serious medication mistakes happen every year, and 100,000 people die from them, how do you make sure you and your loved ones aren't among the casualties? Take these five steps to make sure medication mistakes don't happen to you.
1. Be prepared.
Make a list of prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and any supplements such as vitamins, minerals, or herbs that you and your family members are taking. Keep a copy in your wallet, and update it regularly.
2. Have regular medication reviews.
At least once a year, have your general practitioner or primary doctor review your list of medications to make sure there are no dangerous combinations, incorrect dosages, or medications inappropriate for your age and circumstances. Remember, as time goes by, your body changes, and a medication that was perfectly fine five years ago may not be healthy -- or even necessary -- today.
Another possibility, suggests Anne Meneghetti, M.D., director of Clinical Communication for Epocrates, a medication management system for doctors, is what she calls "brown-bagging it." Load everything you or your family member is taking -- including medications, vitamins and minerals, and herbal supplements -- into a bag and bring it to the doctor's office. With the actual vials and labels in front of her, the doctor will have better information.