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How pharmacists and patients can work together to prevent errors

Pharmacists routinely help patients in Illinois receive the medications they need while also giving them general advice on various health matters. While these trained professionals often take precautions to avoid oversights, one study estimates that 21 percent of medication errors that affect patients might be related to issues with dispensing. However, a proactive approach with how prescriptions are managed on the part of both pharmacists and patients could minimize medication errors.

For their part, pharmacists and pharmacies throughout the country often take several steps to reduce medical malpractice liabilities and patient risks by using special software and manually verifying prescriptions before they are given to or sent to patients. Additionally, medications with similar names and/or appearances are typically kept on different shelves to avoid confusion. Also, dispensed medications are checked against their corresponding images in a pharmacy database.

Patients may also be able to reduce dispensing errors by making sure their basic information (name, birth date, address, doctor info) is up to date. Software used by pharmacists is designed to detect possible allergic reactions with medications. However, patients are still advised to let their regular pharmacy know about any new issues with allergies. It can be equally helpful for patients to provide updates on current health conditions and other prescription medications. Lastly, patients are encouraged to ask questions and request a translator if there is a language barrier that could result in misunderstandings.

An attorney familiar with cases that involve medication errors may consult with doctors, nurses and other health professionals to help determine the cause of harmful oversights. Related negligence claims may stem from inefficient organization of prescriptions at a pharmacy, work overloads or general carelessness. Patients who suffer serious medical issues because of medication mistakes may be entitled to economic damages for related medical bills or lost wages. In some cases, non-economic damages for pain and suffering might also be sought.

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