Whether you have Migraine disease, a different type of head pain disorder, or
another illness or condition entirely, medications may very well play an important
part in your treatment plan and maintaining your quality of life. Unfortunately,
medication errors are made. There is, however, a great deal we can do to help
This year's theme
Each year, the
National Council on Patient
Information and Education (NCPIE) sponsors "Talk About Prescriptions Month,"
each year with a different theme. In this, the 21st annual observance, the theme
is "Preventing Medication Errors - What YOU Need to Know / What YOU Need to Do."
The purpose with this year's observance has three main points:
- To help call attention to the magnitude of
personal health problems due to avoidable medication errors;
- To encourage every affected person or
group -- including consumers, healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical
manufacturers, voluntary health agencies, and local, state and national
government agencies to get involved in combating medication errors;
- To suggest ways that consumers, their
healthcare providers, and public, private, and voluntary organizations can
get involved to drive down medication errors, and by doing so, help promote
safe and appropriate medicine use.
- Each week, four out of five U.S. adults
uses prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications or dietary
- Nearly one-third of adults will take five
or more different medications.
- Americans fill nearly 4 billion
- Hospitalized patients can expect to be
subjected to more than one medication error each day. One study found that
each preventable adverse drug event (ADE) that took place in a hospital
added about $8,750 (in 2006 dollars) to the cost of the hospital stay. (Not
to mention the cost in pain and suffering!)
- Conservatively, the
Institute of Medicine, in a recent report concludes that there are at least
1.5 million preventable ADEs in the U.S. each year -
and it may even be much higher.
What you can do to avoid medication errors
- KEEP an updated list of the prescription
and nonprescription medicines & other products like vitamins and minerals,
you are taking. Keeping this list on your computer makes it easy to update
and print a copies as needed.
- TAKE your medicine list with you every
time you visit a healthcare provider and have him or her review it.
At the Doctor's Office:
- HAVE the doctor, physician's assistant or
nurse practitioner write down the name of the medicine (brand & generic, if
available), what it is for, its dosage, and how often to take it, or provide
other written material with this information.
- HAVE the prescriber explain how to use the
- ASK about side effects and what to do if
you experience a side effect.
At the Pharmacy:
- KNOW that you can review your list of
medications with the pharmacist for additional safety.
- KNOW that you have the right to counseling
by the pharmacist if you have any questions. For example, you can ask the
pharmacist to explain how to properly take the medicine, the side effects of
the medicine, and what to do if you think you are starting to develop a side
At the Hospital (Inpatient Care):
- ASK the doctor or nurse what medicines you
are being given.
- DO NOT take a medicine without being told
the purpose for doing so.
- EXERCISE your right to have someone with
you whenever you are being given medicine and are not able to carefully
follow the medication-use process yourself.
- BEFORE SURGERY, ASK whether there are
medications, especially prescription antibiotics, that you should take or
any that you should stop taking.
- BEFORE YOU GO HOME, ASK for a list of the
medications that you should be taking at home, have a healthcare provider
review the medicines with you, and be sure you understand how to take these
Medications are a valuable element of our
treatment. Used properly and wisely, they're beneficial to us. Many medication
errors can be prevented when we ask questions and work with our doctors. Be
proactive, ask questions, and be safe! Download
form and use one at every doctor's appointment to help you know what
questions to ask about your medications a remember to ask them.
About the NCPIE
Organized in 1982, The National Council on
Patient Information (NCPIE) is a non-profit coalition of over 100 organizations
committed to stimulating and improving communication between consumers and
health care professionals about the safe and appropriate use of medicines. In
addition to sponsoring "Talk About Prescriptions" Month (http://www.talkaboutrx.org),
NCPIE hosts the "Be MedWise" campaign promoting wise use of over-the-counter
- Press Release: "Preventing Medication
Errors: What YOU Need to Know / What YOU Need to Do - Annual NCPIE
observance works to improve medicine communication/reduce medication errors."
National Council on Patient Information and Education. October, 2006.
- National Academy of Sciences. "Preventing
Medication Errors." Washington: National Academies Press. 2006.
- Committee on Identifying and Preventing
Medication Errors, Institute of Medicine. "Preventing Medication Errors
Quality Chasm Series."
Published September 30, 2006
© Teri Robert