Common Medication Mistakes to Avoid


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — More than 131 million Americans – or 66 percent of adults – take prescription drugs. But not all of them use their medicines correctly. Each year between seven thousand and nine thousand people die due to medication mistakes.

If you’re like most Americans, pills are a part of life.

Ann Gwin says, “I’m up to four different medications now for my blood pressure.”

Daniel Munoz, MD, Cardiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center explains, “Medications can be tough to take. They can be complicated to take. Particularly the more medications somebody is prescribed.”

But if you’re using your meds incorrectly, you could be putting yourself in danger. In a recent report, more than nine million American adults said they’ve tried to cut costs by skipping doses, taking less medication, or delaying getting a prescription filled.

“The more medications someone is prescribed and picks up at the pharmacy the higher their out-of-pocket costs will be,” says Doctor Munoz.

But not taking certain medications on schedule can be unsafe. For instance, skipping beta-blockers can cause a spike in blood pressure, which can put you at risk for a heart attack. Another mistake: doubling up on doses if you miss one. Many times, you should skip the missed dose if it’s almost time for your next dose. Another misstep is stopping your meds. You should always take the drug for the amount of time your doctor prescribes.

Ann says, “I lay out my little boxes and then I line up the pills, morning pills and afternoon pills.”

Some drugs like antidepressants can cause harmful withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them cold turkey. Sharing medicines with another person is also a mistake. Your drugs are prescribed with your particular height, weight, age, and medical condition in mind. With medication errors to avoid.

According to UC Davis, every eight minutes, a child experiences a medication error at home. The most common mistakes are giving the wrong medication, administering medicines that the child is allergic to, or taking the wrong dose.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; Charles Bennethum, Editor.



REPORT #3188

BACKGROUND: The use of prescription drugs in the United States is widespread, with over 131 million people, or 66 percent of all adults, relying on them. This is especially common among older individuals and those with chronic conditions. Prescription drugs are crucial for maintaining and improving health. The increasing availability of new products and advancements in technology, along with higher utilization rates, have led to a rise in overall spending on prescription drugs. The growing cost of prescription drugs impacts everyone, particularly heavy users, uninsured individuals, and health plans. Nearly half of the cost is paid out-of-pocket, leading some consumers to take less medication than prescribed due to concerns about affordability. Prescription drug use is influenced by factors such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, income, and health status. Three-quarters of individuals aged 50 to 64 use prescription drugs, compared to 91 percent of those aged 80 and older. Moreover, the average number of prescriptions filled increases with age, from 13 for individuals aged 50 to 64 to 22 for those aged 80 and older.


COMMON MISTAKES: Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in United States, according to a study by Johns Hopkins. Failure to order, perform, or act on lab tests as errors during essential laboratory tests can greatly affect the way treatment is delivered, often with devastating results. Sometimes, the proper test is not ordered. Other times, the test is administered improperly or the way the results are read is incorrect. Sometimes the testing is done properly, and yet the logical course of action is never taken. Any of these medical malpractice errors can result in preventable injury or death for the patient. According to a report by the CRICO insurance program, a division of the Harvard Medical Institutions, Inc., one of every nine medical malpractice cases is related to a medical error. Even worse, 38% of these errors are fatal. Errors can mean the wrong medication is ordered or the wrong dosage is given. It can also occur when the medicine is prescribed or given without considering the patient’s allergies or contradictions with other medications. It can also refer to situations where the patient is not made aware of the medication’s side effects.


RESULTS: : A medication error can occur at any stage of the medication-use process and may result in harm to the individual taking the medication. Errors can arise from improper prescription, preparation, or dispensing of medication, incorrect entry of drug information into a computer system, or incorrect administration by the patient. Medication errors can involve prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. These errors can significantly impact a person’s overall health and quality of life. Taking the wrong medication or using the right medication improperly can lead to severe side effects, hospitalization, and even death. Adverse drug reactions can manifest as skin rashes, disfigurements, or the development of new health problems. In the United States, 7,000 to 9,000 people die each year due to medication errors.


* For More Information, Contact:

Craig Boerner, Media Director

Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe. To sign up: