It puzzles me that with all of healthcare's advances and technology, that medication errors are still a part of its grand scheme. There are millions of people who have been affected, through their own experience or a loved one's circumstances, by medication errors. Medication inaccuracies are not only cost to the healthcare system, but are costly to patients and families in our nation.
Medication errors can come from hospital care, a pharmacy, or ourselves. We need clear and consistent education and prevention tactics to make sure that medication errors decrease in our country. Medication mistakes can lead to unpleasant side effects, hospitalizations, or even death.
I know of many pharmacists that work very long hours and do not get the proper rest that they need in order to perform their jobs effectively. I spoke to a pharmacist in a large retail chain and she said that for two days she had to work back to back 12-hour shifts. We are all human, but I do not know anyone that can work for 12 hours straight two days in a row and be effective. I am NOT saying that it can not be done, but to let a pharmacist do it? These are the people, along with hospital staff and doctors, that we entrust our lives no matter what the state of our health. However because we are human and those humans are subjected to long hours, it will be our health and welfare that is affected along with our loved ones.
I go to a small pharmacy because I like the intimate setting and the fact that my pharmacist is someone I can trust. She will counsel me about all of my medications, how they work, and how they will affect me. When she made a medication error concerning me, it was as if I was probably affected. My sweet, darling pharmacist made a mistake that cost me a lot of unpleasantness in dealing with side effects from the medication with which she made an error. Apparently, she had read my doctor's prescription and entered it into her computer incorrectly. But do I blame her, or the long hours that she works? Not only that, she has to be the pharmacist and the business woman at her facility.
I think the question comes down to who do we blame? The doctor, the hospital staff, the pharmacist, or ourselves? With medication errors, it could be any one of these parties.
That's why it is of vital importance that we, as consumers of health care, act as our own advocates to make sure we are not affected by a medication error. We must ask our doctors the questions about our medications, whether old or new. We must make sure there are medicines during a hospital stay are correct, and are given in the right doses. If you can not do that yourself, have a proxy, family member or other party do it for you. We, as patients consuming these medicines, must manage them with strict vigilance. We must read labels and make sure they are for the correct person, the correct dosage and the correct doctor. Ask your pharmacist about any side effects, and what to do if we experience them.
It is all of our responsibility to make sure that medication errors decrease. None of us want to be a statistic.