According to the FDA, drug-related adverse events are responsible for 4 million Emergency room visits per year. The cost of these visits exceed $4 billion per year. More important, these medication errors can prove fatal.

How Medication Errors Occur
Medication errors can occur in many ways:

  1. taking the wrong dose of medications.
  2. not taking a medication that was prescribed.
  3. taking duplicate medications.
  4. medications with bad side effects
  5. medications that interact with each other causing unfavorable effects on the patient.

How can this happen? Most heart patients have other Doctors also involved in their care for other ailments. If you wind up in the Hospital for anything, invariably a new medication is started or a change in dose of medications you were already taking. Hospitals routinely give a list of medications for the patient at the time of discharge.

Tips To Avoid Medication Errors
Here are some tips to avoid these medication errors:

  • Bring your medications with you on EVERY Doctor visit. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brown paper bag like this. Bring them all.
  • If you were in the Hospital, bring the list of medications that was provided to you.
  • Make sure you ask your Doctor to review all the medications to remove any unneccary ones.
  • Take the medications as directed.
  • Make sure you tell your Doctor that if any changes are made in the medication regimen, to communicate that change with the other Doctors involved in your care.
  • Make sure you tell all your Doctors what drugs you’re allergic to.
  • Make sure you tell your Doctors what drugs cause adverse side effects. You may not break out in a rash or get dizzy or get tongue swelling, but you may still have an adverse effect.
  • If your Doctor makes any changes in your medication regimen, have him/her write down exactly what the change is on paper so you can remember when you get home. Often, it all sounds very understandable but when you get home, the details get fuzzy.


  • Keep a list of prescription drugs, over the counter drugs and any vitamins and minerals that you take.
  • Review this list with your family doctor for possible interactions.
  • Know where to find additional information about your medication library web sites.
  • Clearly distinguish and keep separate the bottles of medication you and your spouse take.


  • Confirm with your pharmacist the name of the drug, the dosage and the directions for use as written by your doctor.
  • Review the list of medications you take with the pharmacist for additional safety.
  • Ask the pharmacist to explain how to take the drug, the possible side effects and what to do if you have any and drug interactions.
  • Make sure you have written information about the medication.


  • Ask the doctor or nurses about drugs (strength,frequency) you are being given.
  • Do not take a drug without being told the reason for doing so.
  • Exercise your right to have a surrogate present when you receive medication and are unable to monitor medication use yourself.
  • Ask whether there are any medications that you should stop taking before surgery.
  • Before discharge, ask for a list of the medications you should take at home and review them with a doctor.