11 March 2011

Prescriptions – Source for Many Errors - P2

The March 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping decided to do an article under Good Health titled Rx for Trouble, subtitled – How to be sure the prescription your doctor orders is the drug your get. This is the second part and about errors in the hospital setting.

The Good Housekeeping article also did an excellent task of describing many of the errors that happen in the hospital setting, but they did miss a few important problems. I will refer you to previous blogs for these discussions. Blog 1 is about drug abuse in the ICU setting when patient is discharged. Blog 2 is for what to do when entering the hospital under various conditions. Blog 2 is important for many reasons.

If you think you have problems with lab coat syndrome, most people really have brain failure when being admitted into a hospital. This is why a prepared list of medications is important to give to admissions. Forgetting even one can have serious complications if a new drug is introduced and even this can be deadly. They suggest downloading “My medicine list” from safemedication.com, filling it out and printing copies for different needs and one for your wallet.

The article talked about an Australian study showing that hospital nurses were interrupted 53 percent of the time when they were dispensing drugs. This is when errors in medications were made – like incorrect dosages, incorrect amounts of injections, or even the wrong medication increased 12 percent with each interruption.  Just make sure that they check your ID before they administer a medication.

If you are in the hospital, make sure that your doctor knows about it. This is doubly important upon discharge. Often the list of medications is just handed to you with a group of prescriptions attached and you are not given any explanation. Some may be very important for you to continue until a set time after discharge. Other medications may be what they think you need.

Check the medications checklist against your list and ask questions before you are released. If they put you off, do what you have to do to talk to your primary doctor and discuss the list and what you have been taking. I had to create a scene to get the hospital doctor back to explain what the medications were for and any potential combination bad effects. When he just told me that I was to forget about what I was on prior and all that I needed was on the list.

Needless to say, I was not going on oral diabetes medications from insulin and definitely not the ones I knew the FDA was investigating. I had to ask for the correct spelling of the doctors name and then he asked me why. I said for the lawsuit for prescribing medicines about to be taken off the market and and for totally ignoring my medication list and the fact that I get my medications from the VA pharmacy.

He left in a huff and I walked out without signing the paper they wanted me to sign. I contacted my doctor and talked to him about the medications from the hospital and he agreed that I did not need to change. There was one that he wanted to look up and he would get back to me about even filling the prescription. About three hours later, he called me at home to say not to fill that as is would create very severe complications with the medications I was taking.

This is why I want to emphasize how important this is and why. Never, and I repeat never assume that the doctor always knows best or that they think of everything. Ask questions and then check with your primary doctor.

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