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Medication errors can endanger the lives of patients

When seeking medical treatment in New York, patients expect healthcare professionals to provide the very best in care. However, mistakes can and will happen, especially when it comes to prescribing medication. That's why it's crucial that both the health care community as well as patients remain vigilant against the possibility of medication errors.

As stated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, over a 25 year period the agency received almost 30,000 claims of medication errors. Some posit that the number could actually be much greater, since reporting of errors is largely voluntary. A medication error is defined as an avoidable instance of medication being incorrectly prescribed or administered and resulting in patient injury.  

There are a number of ways errors in prescribing or administering medications can occur. For instance, drug packaging may be confusing to patients, especially without proper instruction from health care staff. Issues with the legibility of prescriptions have been cited in the past, as have confusion regarding the names of drugs. In many cases, officials state that medication errors often involve several different people and typically one person can't be found wholly responsible for the incident.  

Of course, patients can also take certain steps to keep medication errors from occurring. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends asking specific questions of the individual tasked with prescribing or administering the medication. Such questions can include what food or drink should be avoided, the purpose of the medication and how long it should be taken. Patients are also urged to report their current drug list to doctors to ensure no adverse interactions occur. Lastly, being vocal about any concerns regarding a medical regimen is imperative to preventing serious complications from occurring.

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