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Medical Errors: Tips to Help Prevent ThemFebruary 19, 2015

Government agencies, purchasers of group health care, physicians and other health care providers are working together to make the U.S. health care system safer.

The single most important way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care team. That means taking part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results.

Make sure that all of your doctors know about everything you are taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs. At least once a year, bring all of your medicines and supplements with you to your doctor.

Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines. This can help you avoid getting a medicine that can harm you.

Make sure that all health professionals involved in your care have important health information about you. Do not assume that everyone knows everything they need to.

Ask to get information about your medicines in terms you can understand. Ask for this information both when your medicines are prescribed and when you receive them.

Ask for written information about the side effects your medicine could cause. If you know what might happen, you will be better prepared. That way, you can report the problem right away, especially if something unexpected happens, and you can get help before it gets worse.

When your doctor writes you a prescription, make sure you can read it. If you can't read your doctor's handwriting, your pharmacist might not be able to either.