Home General Medical Prescription Errors Can Be a Big Problem: How to Handle Them

Medical Prescription Errors Can Be a Big Problem: How to Handle Them

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A medical prescription error is a lapse in the treatment process that can often be harmful to a patient. It is a significant problem among various healthcare systems around the world, and it accounts for an estimated 4 billion dollars annually in terms of medical costs in treating drug-related injuries in hospitals and clinics. The figure can be higher, as it does not account for unreported cases and other related expenses. Still, it is a telling figure that there are healthcare practices and procedures that need improvement for the safety of patients. 

To safeguard your safety and well-being, here are some ways you can handle medical prescription errors.

Know the medications and review their indications

It doesn’t take a medical professional to know the name and basic information about their medication. As a patient or a loved one of the patient, consider it your responsibility to know the names, indications, and other essential information about the medications you or your loved one is taking. It helps to err on the side of caution and to practice due diligence in knowing the medications to know if there are inconsistencies in the drugs taken. An experienced prescription error lawyer would advise you to be vigilant and observant of the effects of the medications taken. Even a simple change in medication to the same generic medicine can change the treatment outcome due to the different formulation of the same type of medicine. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your medications, as it helps update both the patient and the healthcare professional on the progress of the treatment and if there are changes or updates to medication.

Check the expiration dates of your medication

Medical prescription error encompasses a broad range of inconsistencies concerning the medication of patients. It covers incorrect medicine prescription, dosage regimen errors, incorrect formulation administration, and therapy monitoring lapses. Having a watchful eye for details can help you avoid taking expired medicines and notify the nurse or attending physician of the situation. If there are excess or unused drugs at the end of the therapy, dispose of these drugs. Do not keep them and wait for them to expire. Some medicines are safe to flush down the toilet or throw in the household rubbish bin. If your community has a drug take back programme, check if your medications are eligible for the programme. Some pharmacies also have mail-back programs, drop-off boxes, and other services for the safe disposal of unused medicine.

Read about drug interactions and warnings

Some patients who are brought to the hospital or the emergency room can be disoriented or confused, which is why care should be taken before administering medications to them. If the patient has a companion or a loved one with them, health professionals should ask them about any allergies and history of drug reactions the patient might have. If the patient is admitted with no companion, generally safe medications should be given to relieve the manifested symptoms or an allergy test can be conducted, if necessary. If the patient is already lucid, healthcare professionals can proceed to ask them about any allergies they may have. As a patient, be sure to read the possible interactions and warnings indicated on the medicine labels and inform the attending nurse or physician if you remember any history of adverse drug interactions. 


Medical prescription errors have many underlying causes, but can be prevented by revising practices and procedures that are prone to lapses. Patients and their loved ones also have a role to play in ensuring the medications are safe and to observe any changes in their overall health while in therapy. It should also be noted that different people have different physical and chemical makeup and may have varying reactions to treatments. Thus, due care, diligence, and vigilance can help prevent medical prescription errors and allay fears and concerns about them.

Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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