Medication Errors: How Seniors Can Avoid Them

medication errorSeniors may be at a higher risk of suffering from a medication-related error. The Harvard Medical School has tips for seniors to prevent these dangerous errors and injuries.

There are reasons why seniors may be at a higher risk of suffering medication error-related injuries. Aging-related cognitive slowness may cause a senior to misunderstand a doctor’s instructions. Hearing impairment is also another factor in such misunderstandings.  That failure to understand instructions clearly could lead to overdosages and other possibly fatal errors.

Remember, there are a number of factors that affect not just the effectiveness of your drug, but also its ability to cause harm.  As a senior, you have the right to complete information about the medication that is prescribed for you. If your doctor has prescribed a certain medication, ask questions about it.

Is the medication the doctor prescribed a drug that he has seen benefit from, or is it a new drug available on the market?

Will it be necessary for you to maintain and record your blood pressure readings, weight, and other factors while on this medication?

Certain medications are only available under brand names, which means that these medications are new, and not that well-tested. It also means that any side effects and complications associated with these medications have not been properly understood. As a patient, you have a right to that information.

Ask your doctor about any complications or side effects associated with medications. Many medications have side effects, and many of these side effects may not be serious. Fatigue and weight gain are common side effects of certain medications. If there are side effects associated with your medication, then you must know about these. For instance, certain medications can interfere with the color of your urine or stools. Other medications can cause hair loss, facial twitches or hand tremors. These effects can be frightening for you unless you’re aware of them.

Be very sure about how you are required to take the medication. Effectiveness of the medication will depend very heavily on the delivery of the medication. Are the medications to be taken before or after your meals? Can you combine any foods with the medication? Can you drink alcohol while you are on your medication? Certain types of ingredients can interact with the medication. For instance, grapefruit juice has been found to interact with many types of pharmacological ingredients. Your doctor should inform you about these possible risks.

Advances in pharmacology mean that an overwhelming number of diseases are now treatable, and at the very least, manageable. Medications however, can have possible long-term effects, and as patient, it is your right to have complete, accurate and updated information about the medications that you are ingesting.

If you have suffered injuries as a result of a medication error, speak to an Indianapolis medical malpractice attorney at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy, LLP,  and understand whether you have rights to a legal medical malpractice claim.