Medication errors are a serious health risk and are becoming even more so, according to the AARP Health Report “Watch Your Meds” in the June/July 2012 AARP.org Magazine. Medication errors result in around 1.5 million preventable injuries each year. Four hundred thousand of those occur in hospitals in the United States, adding to some $3.5 billion in extra medical costs.
The report says that of all age groups older people are the most likely group to be hospitalized for injuries and side effects caused by medication errors. A Food and Drug Administration reports finds that almost half of these errors end in death in those over age 60. The reason for the increase at an older age is that older people take medicine much more than younger ones do, multiplying the risk.
Pharmacy mistakes happen one out of five times.
A study in Auburn University in Alabama of 100 community pharmacies found blunders in one out of every five prescriptions. Common errors include incorrectly transferring the doctor’s instructions onto the label—like leaving out “Take before dinner” on a diabetes drug—or mistaking one drug for another with a similar look or name. Other times the pharmacist got the dosage wrong or the customer got someone else’s prescription.
How can you protect yourself?
- Drug counseling at the pharmacy counter caught 89% of errors, another study showed. These problems were corrected before the customer even left the store. If you take the time to review the medications with the pharmacist, check the dosage and review what the doctor says this can be a big help, especially if this is a new medicine.
- If you are refilling a prescription, open the container in the store to make sure it is what you are used to taking. Medications can look different from one refill to the next; the pharmacy may have switched to a generic that is a different color or shape. When you look at the pills, you have the right to ask about the change and if this is still the right medication for your condition.
Pharmacies are busier.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that between 1999 and 2008 the number of people taking one prescription increased from 44 to 48% and the ones taking two or more prescriptions jumped from 25 to 31%. Those taking five or more rose from 6 to 11%. Thank about how busy and distracted pharmacists can get at certain time of the month, the week and the day.
How can you protect yourself?
- Ask your pharmacist when the best time to get your prescriptions filled is. Or use the automated refill system that allows the staff time to process your prescription.
- Try not to have to refill prescriptions during the first week of the month because medication errors that result in death rise 25% above normal early in the month, according to research at the University of California at San Diego. The suspected reason is that people tend to fill their prescriptions after they get their Social Security and other assistance checks.
Now that you are aware of this problem you will be more able to protect yourself.
For more information:
Stanton Lawson is the Co-Owner of Sequoia Senior Solutions. Sequoia’s mission is to ensure a better quality of life for their elderly clients and their families, by providing dependable and affordable in-home care. Sequoia’s focus is to keep you or your loved ones at home and avoid:
- Loss of friends and possessions
- Loss of independence and freedom
- Loss of spirit which is drained by the battles of daily living
Sequoia Senior Solutions, Inc. serves Napa, Sonoma, Marin, Solano, Mendocino, Lake Counties. The main office is located at191 Lynch Creek Way, Suite 102, Petaluma, CA 94954. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (707) 763-6600 Fax: (707) 763-6607, www.sequoiaseniorsolutions.com.