Prescription drugs are made to treat diseases and save lives. But that may not be the case if you consume the wrong medication.
A wrong drug can harm your health because of its side effects. While some side effects tend to be minimal, harmful drugs can cause severe complications.
The potential danger of a wrong drug is preventable. Avoiding medication errors is a team effort that encompasses your doctor, pharmacist, caregiver, and you, as the patient.
What is the wrong drug?
A wrong drug is an incorrect medication given to a person due to a drug mix-up, bad drug interaction, dosage error, and unforeseen reactions in the body.
Over 9,000 patients die in the United States due to medication errors.
These mistakes happen in different settings. It can occur during physician consultations, in hospitals, pharmacies, and even at your own home.
The common causes of consuming the wrong drug include several factors including:
- Lack of communication. Prescription drugs tends to overlap and lead to overdose if your team of healthcare providers lacks communication. Likewise, your doctors also need to explain every medication given to you.
- Confusing drug names. Lack of mastery of specific drug names can confuse healthcare providers, resulting in prescription errors.
- Medical abbreviations. Shortened terms for medications can be confusing for pharmacists and patients.
- Incorrect label. Pharmaceutical companies must include correct tags with the proper dosage and warning.
- Wrong dosage. Incorrect dosage may be due to illegible handwriting, inaccurate filing of prescription forms, and errors in processing verbal prescriptions.
- Drug interactions. Drugs mixed with other elements such as food, beverages, and other medications can cause potential harm and unexpected side effects.
What are the side effects of having the wrong drug?
Improper use of a drug can result in side effects in the body. The wrong medication can minimally affect your body or cause severe complications depending on your dosage.
- Lack of full benefit from the drug. An incorrect dosage will not give you the full advantage of the drug. Doctors may decide to provide you with higher doses or allow you to take other types of medication with higher effectiveness.
- Drug resistance. When used repeatedly and incorrectly, your body may develop resistance to the drugs, making it difficult to cure the illness it is intended for.
- Organ damage. Medication errors can lead to liver and kidney damage, especially if the wrong drug has been taken for an extended period.
- Permanent disability. Injuries in the body can result in an irreversible condition that incapacitates the patient for life.
- Death. Ingesting the wrong drug can result in death if the side effects are mistakenly taken in extreme dosage.
- Financial loss. Indigestion of the wrong drug leads to more physical check-ups, laboratory examinations, and hospital visits, which can financially burden you.
How can we be sure that we are taking the right medication?
The healthcare system is responsible for patient safety. However, you are the last line of defense against the wrong drugs.
As the patient or someone’s caregiver, you also need to check your medications and exert extra effort to ensure that you take the right one.
Here are some of the preventive measures you can start with:
- List medications. Make a list of all your medicines for easier reference.
- Organize medications. Store your drugs using a pillbox or labeled containers to avoid mix-ups.
- Store information sheets. Do not throw away information sheets of your medications if you need to review or read your pills’ details in the future.
- Buy from the same pharmacy. Purchase your prescriptions from the same drugstore to build a sense of familiarity between you and the pharmacist or staff catering to your orders.
- Double-check. Over 2% of prescriptions are wrongly dispensed. Always check your orders and see if you are given the accurate medicines as prescribed. Moreover, request your pharmacist to review the prescriptions and help you decipher the doctor’s instructions for a clearer understanding.
- Don’t share prescriptions. Your diagnosis and medication are different from others. Don’t give your prescription medication to others. Avoid getting health information from non-authority websites or non-medical professionals.
Side effects of the wrong drugs should not be ignored since they can be dangerous.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience complications due to the wrong drugs. Your doctor can help mitigate the side effects and prescribe you medicines that can counter the difficulties.
However, if complications persist after your doctors have exhausted treatment, you can report your case to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The agency can look at your point and see if it falls under the safety and adverse event reporting program.
Likewise, you can seek legal advice from the wrong drug attorney. A lawyer can provide legal assistance and representation should you wish to file a claim against a company or individual who should be liable for your condition.
Again, consuming the wrong drug is preventable. Aside from your health provider’s supervision, having the right information and careful management of your medicines are important to avoid potential harm to your body.