Medicines cure infectious diseases, prevent problems from chronic diseases, and ease pain. But medicines can also cause harmful reactions if not used correctly. Errors can happen in the hospital, at the doctor's office, at the pharmacy, or at home. You can help prevent errors by
- Knowing your medicines. Keep a list of the names of your medicines, how much you take, and when you take them. Include over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements and herbs. Take this list to all your doctor visits.
- Reading medicine labels and following the directions. Don't take medications prescribed for someone else.
- Taking extra caution when giving medicines to children.
- Asking questions. If you don't know the answers to these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
- Why am I taking this medicine?
- What are the common problems to watch out for?
- What should I do if they occur?
- When should I stop this medicine?
- Can I take this medicine with the other medicines on my list?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- List of Confused Drug Names (Institute for Safe Medication Practices) - PDF
- List of Error-Prone Abbreviations, Symbols, and Dose Designations (Institute for Safe Medication Practices) - PDF
- Tablet Splitting: A Risky Practice (Food and Drug Administration)
Videos and Tutorials
- Take Your Medicines Safely (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Medication Errors (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- 6 Tips to Avoid Medication Mistakes (Food and Drug Administration)
- How and when to get rid of unused medicines (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Keeping your medications organized (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Medication safety during your hospital stay (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Medication safety: Filling your prescription (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Storing your medicines (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Taking medicine at home - create a routine (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish