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Ways For Health Care Providers To Avoid Medication Errors

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Ways For Health Care Providers To Avoid Medication Errors

Completely write out the prescription, including the drug name and dosage regimen. The full dosage regimen includes the dose, frequency, duration, and route of administration of the drug to be administered.

When writing out a dose, do not use a trailing zero and do use a leading zero.

For veterinarians, when calling in or writing out a human drug prescription for animals, verbally state or write out the entire prescription because some pharmacists may be unfamiliar with veterinary abbreviations.

Consider using a computerized prescription system to minimize misinterpretation of handwriting.

Institutions should educate healthcare providers and other employees on proper use of abbreviations.

Report adverse events that stem from medication errors or abbreviations errors to the FDA.

Practitioners, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, should be very familiar with the abbreviations used in medical practice and in prescription writing. All drug names, dosage units, and directions for use should be written clearly to avoid misinterpretation. Pharmacists should be included in teams that develop EMRs and e-prescribing tools. According to the Joint Commission, health care organizations can develop their own internal standards for medical abbreviations, use a published reference source with consistent terms, and should ensure to avoid multiple abbreviations for the same word. However, internal enforcement and consistency are always the key.

What Can You As a Patient Do?

Ask your doctor how you are supposed to take your medication before you leave the office, and write it down for future reference.

If you receive a prescription with unusual or unexpected directions, be sure to double check with your pharmacist or doctor.

FDA encourages all healthcare providers, patients and consumers to report medication errors to the FDA Medwatch Program so that the FDA can be made aware of potential problems and provide effective interventions that will minimize further errors. Timely prevention of medical errors can save a patient’s life.

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