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Preventing medical errors: what can patients do? (PART 2)

Today we continue our discussion on steps patients can take to minimize the possibility of medical errors. Although there can never be a guarantee that someone will avoid a medical error, it is possible to be proactive when it comes to your healthcare.

A type of medical error that many might not think about has to do with medications. We rely on medications to manage conditions and fight various diseases. You may end up taking a medication for a few days or may be told to take a medication for the rest of your life. It's important to have a thorough discussion with your doctor about the medicines you are taking and any new medicine he or she may be prescribing.

Here are some tips to consider:

--Bring all your medications to the doctor appointment--Make sure your doctor knows about every medicine you are taking--Make sure you can read the prescription - if you can't read it, a pharmacist may not be able to as well--Get written information about the medicine's side effects--Tell your doctor about any allergies you have

On top of that, it's important to ask your doctor a variety of questions such as:

--How do I take this and for how long?--Why am I being prescribed this medicine?--What are the side effects?--Can I take this medicine with my daily supplements or other medications?--Is there anything I should avoid while I am on this medication?

You can also ask the pharmacist a variety of questions:

--Is this the medicine my doctor prescribed?--Can you please explain how to take this medication?--What is the best way to measure my liquid medicine?

Some of these questions may seem like overkill, but when it comes to your health, it's better to be safe than sorry. Medication errors can have fatal consequences or may leave a patient injured for life.

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