Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Information and Resources

Hospital Medication Errors: Reducing Your Risk

Medication errors are unfortunately common in the practice of health care. Hospital medication errors are especially scary. How would you even know if a nurse is giving you the wrong drug or the wrong dosage?

But experts say that you can help prevent such mistakes. Here are some tips.

  • Bring in your medications. Your health care team at the hospital needs to know about every drug you take, whether it's prescription, over-the-counter, or an herbal supplement. One easy way to do this is to bring in all of your medications in a bag to show them.
  • Find out if you should continue taking your regular medicines when in the hospital. If you're currently taking a daily medicine -- for high blood pressure or heart disease, for instance -- find out whether you should continue taking it when you're in the hospital. Don't assume that the hospital doctors and nurses will already know the drugs prescribed by your family doctor. You need to tell them explicitly; especially confirm with them the dosage of the medication you take.
  • Always ask. When a nurse comes in to give you a drug, ask questions. What does this drug do? How much do you need? How often do you need it? Asking questions is a key way of lowering the risk of errors.
  • Make sure the medicine is for you. Another way to avoid a serious hospital medication error is to ask your nurse to compare your ID with the name on the prescription before you get it.
  • Keep notes. Before surgery, start up a list of the drugs you'll probably be taking, along with doses and details about why you take the medicine (indication). Bring it with you to the hospital and keep it up to date. This way, you're more likely to notice any changes to your regimen.
  • Ask your family to help out. Since you might be drowsy and forgetful after surgery, it's great to have a family member or friend who's keeping track of your medication for you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on February 18, 2014

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
highlighted areas of the brain
How well do you know yours?
oatmeal and eggs
The best and worst for you.
dog begging at table
Foods your dog should never eat.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
mature woman with serious expression
What do you know?
chlamydia
Pictures and facts.
Healthy Snack
13 delicious options.
Take your medication
Separate fact from fiction.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
young woman in sun
What to watch for.
woman clutching at stomach
Do you know what's causing yours?

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.