Medication errors are very common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 82 percent of adults are on at least one medication and 29 percent take five or more. With numbers such as those, it’s no wonder mistakes happen.
The CDC also says adverse drug events, which are instances where medication errors cause harm, are responsible for approximately 700,000 emergency department visits a year. Typical medication errors include:
• Taking over-the-counter products that contain acetaminophen when you’re already taking a prescription pain medicine that contains acetaminophen, possibly exceeding the recommended dose and increasing the risk of liver damage.
• Taking prescription medications that go by different names but include the same ingredients, increasing the risk of overdose.
• Mixing up eye drops with ear drops.
• Chewing nonchewables.
• Cutting up pills that should be taken whole.
• Using the wrong size spoon to measure dosage.
• Missing or doubling up on doses.
• Confusing medications with similar sounding names or abbreviations or medications that look similar.
• Removing medications from their original labeled containers.
A process called medication reconciliation will help prevent medication errors. Medication reconciliation is when you compare your current or updated list of medications, both prescription and over-the counter, to what you have been taking. This should be done every time a medication changes or you interact with a new health care provider.