Thousands of Americans each year are injured due to medication errors that occur in a hospital’s emergency department. One mistake by a nurse or anesthesiologist is all it takes to change your life forever.
In such high-pressure emergency department scenarios, doctors, nurses, aides and paramedics face numerous challenges – any of which can lead to a mistake. Some may occur because hospital staff is relying on incomplete medical information or obsolete prescription drug information. Other times, a mistake can occur due to a miscommunication between members of the hospital team.
Guidelines that may help patients
Here are a few things you can do to help prevent a medication error from happening in a hospital emergency room:
- Always carry a list of your prescription medications and their dosages. If you have any drug allergies, make note of that, too.
- Your list also should include over-the-counter medications such as allergy medicine, pain relievers as well as vitamin supplements. Such products could interact with any drugs emergency staff may give you, leading to potentially harmful side effects.
- Carry a contact list for your physician and pharmacy. These people know your medical and medicine history, and can provide insight if emergency staff contacts them.
- Make sure hospital staff verifies who you are by reviewing your identification bracelet. This may minimize any confusion if the staff must administer medication.
- Bring a patient advocate such as a family member or close friend who knows your medical history.
- Look out for yourself by asking questions. If you have concerns about a medication and potential side effects, tell the staff and ask them to provide more information.
Emergency hospital staff members must think and act quickly. They must maintain their composure and ensure proper care for their patients. But medication errors can happen. Although you may trust medical staff, it’s always a good thing to be prepared and advocate for yourself.