Sunday, March 15, 2009

How to protect yourself from medication errors

From CTV News:
Each year, about 422 million prescriptions are filled in Canada. And each year, countless Canadians are sent to hospital because of problems with these prescriptions.

A study published this past summer in the Canadian Medical Association Journal estimated that more than one in nine of all emergency room visits are medication-related. Many of the times, the patients were at fault because they skipped doses or ignored warnings on the label. But often, the patient has done everything right; they've simply been the victim of a prescribing error.

Somewhere between a doctor writing a prescription and a patient receiving it, errors can be made with incorrect drug selection, contraindications, dosage errors, or communication problems with the pharmacy.

How serious is the problem in Canada? Startlingly, no one knows. That's because Canada still does not have a decent nationwide system for reporting medication errors.

The systems that do exist focus more on medication side effects or on errors made in hospital. But the problem of prescribing errors made in doctors' offices remains largely unexplored, says Dr. Neil MacKinnon, an associate professor at the College of Pharmacy at Dalhousie University in Halifax, whose primary area or research is studying medication errors. ..more

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