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Why do medication errors occur?

If you are like most people, you take one or more medications to manage health conditions. While beneficial, an error in prescribing medication can have a detrimental effect on your wellness and may even cause a major complication.

You expect doctors and pharmacists to provide quality care at all times, but medication mistakes do happen frequently. And while it is ultimately up to healthcare providers to prevent errors, knowing why they happen can protect you in the future. Here are a few common reasons.

Similar medication names

Many prescription medications have similar names, which can be confusing for medical staff. It is possible for your doctor to notate one medication when they really intended another. By the same token, the pharmacist can also mistake one prescription for another when filling the order. This highlights the importance of asking questions during visits. The more you know about your medications, the easier it will be to identify a mistake.

Illegible abbreviations

Doctors and other medical staff often use abbreviations when writing medication orders. These abbreviations may be hard for other people to read, including the staff at your pharmacy. In this case, doctors must ensure they are recording abbreviations legibly to prevent mistakes. Additionally, pharmacists must contact doctor’s offices if they have a question about a prescription.

Problems with communication

Communication is crucial during doctor’s visits. Your doctor must communicate with you effectively to ensure you understand diagnoses, treatments, and prescriptions. Doctors must also communicate with other medical staff, such as nurses and specialists, in an effective manner. If your doctor rushes through appointments or dismisses you when you ask questions, it may be time to look for a new medical provider.