Most of us are aware of the situation. A person with a history of medical issues is admitted to the hospital. An admitting nurse or staff member inquires about the medications the person is presently taking. Often, due to pain, confusion, and many other factors, the medication list is incomplete or inaccurate. Yet, that list will become part of the patient’s medical chart and doctors and hospital staff will base some of the treatment decisions on that erroneous information. This may lead to complications, delays in health improvement, and in the worst cases, death.
The problem presented above is so common that the Journal of General Internal Medicine published an important research study on the subject. There are some things the patient can do to protect against such errors. Perhaps the most important is keep a written list of all current medications including dosage information readily available and accessible by a close family member or healthcare surrogate. Secondly, make sure each and every one of your treating physicians has a copy of the most current list of medications, including any supplements and/or vitamins.
Sometimes, medical errors are beyond the control of the patient. However, in this instance, the patient can lower the risk significantly by taking charge of their own medication history and informing the necessary parties involved with their healthcare.
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