Improved Communication May Reduce Drug Errors at Home

Published Online: Sunday, August 1, 2004

Reports submitted to the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) have revealed that taking the wrong dose of medication and forgetting to take a prescription medicine altogether are the most common drug errors in the home.

The causes of these errors include communication problems (21% of patients) and a lack of knowledge (19% of patients). A lack of patient-specific labeling on drug samples provided by physicians' offices is another reason. Patients said that these samples were usually given without information about the drug's use, side effects, and warnings. In many cases, when it came to taking medication at home, patients reported that they did not understand how to take their medications, misunderstood dosing abbreviations, or did not question when the appearance of the product or instructions on refilled prescriptions varied from the original prescription. In an effort to reduce the risk of errors at home, health care professionals need to establish better communication and patient-counseling processes.

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