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What Maryland patients can do to help prevent medical errors

Medical errors and instances of medical malpractice happen most often in hospitals and physicians' offices and clinics throughout Maryland. However, they also can happen in other places, such as pharmacies and nursing homes. A lack of communication between health-care providers also increases the risk of a medical error. Both medical professionals and patients can help prevent these problems by taking a few precautions.

Always let your doctor know what medicines you are taking. You should also let the person know if you are taking any herbs, vitamins or over-the-counter medicines. In addition, take your medicines with you when you visit your doctor. This will help the doctor and staff update your records and determine whether those medicines are affecting your condition or are having negative interactions with your other medications. If you have allergies, always tell your doctors about them because some medicines can have negative effects on people with allergies.

Always ensure you can read the prescriptions your doctor writes for you. If you cannot, a pharmacist also may trouble reading it, increasing the chance that it will be filled incorrectly. Ask questions about the prescription so you know how it is supposed to work, what the correct dosage is, what side effects it may have and when and how to take it.

When you pick up the prescription, make sure it is the right medicine. Taking a medicine that is not appropriate for your condition can worsen it. Make sure you understand the directions for taking the medication, especially if they seem confusing.

With these simple tips, you and your family can avoid being the victims of a medical error. In the event that an error does have life-threatening effects, you or a family member can consult with a legal professional to find out what remedies might bring compensation.

Source:, "20 tips to help prevent medical errors," accessed on Oct. 29, 2014

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