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Eliminating medication errors

One in two Australians have made a mistake with their medicines in the past year, according to research from the NPS. In a survey of 1205 people, NPS found 57 per cent had made a mistake in the last 12 months; 44 per cent had forgotten to take a dose, while 25 per cent took a medication without food, despite differing instructions.

02 Apr 2012

One in two Australians have made a mistake with their medicines in the past year, according to research from the NPS.

In a survey of 1205 people, NPS found 57 per cent had made a mistake in the last 12 months; 44 per cent had forgotten to take a dose, while 25 per cent took a medication without food, despite differing instructions.

Other mistakes included taking a higher or lower dose than prescribed or accidentally taking the wrong medication.

In an additional survey, NPS found one in five people reported having taking an expired medicine.

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said that, from time to time, we all make mistakes with our medication, and while most of the time mistakes are relatively harmless, sometimes the consequences can be serious.

“When a doctor prescribes medication for a patient, it is important that the patient knows what the medicine is for and why it is important for it to be taken as directed,” Dr Hambleton said.

The NPS said that patients should follow the following steps to minimise mistakes from occurring:

  • Know it’s a medicine – if you are expecting it to affect your body or your health, it is likely a medicine.
  • Know the active ingredient of your medicine – the active ingredient of your medication may interact with other medications, including complementary medicines such as herbs and vitamins, so it is important to know what the active ingredient is.
  • Always follow instructions from your doctor or pharmacist on how to use the medication.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist questions about your medication.

KW


Published: 02 Apr 2012