Published Online: Sunday, January 1, 2006

The number of Americans making mistakes with prescription medicines is staggering—more than 100,000 each year. These errors sometimes lead to serious health problems or even death. During the recent Prescription Errors Education and Awareness Week, the Department of Veterans Affairs offered the following tips for patients to avoid prescription mistakes:

  • Do not pressure physicians to prescribe medications seen and heard about in television commercials or on other media outlets. Let physicians make medication decisions based on their expertise.
  • Inform physicians about any allergies and adverse reactions to medicines. Keep a journal of all medications taken, as well as any side effects experienced.
  • Tell physicians about all of the medications being taken, including Rx drugs, OTC products, and dietary supplements.
  • Ask health care professionals, including pharmacists, questions to help understand what medication is being prescribed and how it works.

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