There is a reason training to be a pharmacist or medic takes so long: They cannot afford to make errors. However, pharmacists and doctors do make errors. Thousands of people die each year in the US due to medication errors; how many is unclear as studies have produced wildly different numbers.

A doctor can make errors when determining or noting down the prescription. They can get the names of medicines confused. Or they could fail to ask what other medications you are taking or if you have other existing conditions or allergies.

A pharmacist can get it wrong when issuing the medicine. They could get distracted and put the label on the wrong bottle. Or they could misread the information from the prescription.

The best option is to look out for yourself, rather than blindly placing your faith in others. These are some steps to take:

  • Tell the doctor about your medical history and any other medicines you are taking.
  • Read up about the medicines you take. Understand what they contain to avoid overdosing on two drugs containing the same ingredient.
  • Know what the medicine you take looks and tastes like and what dosage you need.
  • Be aware of the different names a drug goes under.
  • Store your pills safely with correct labeling.
  • Do not be afraid to question the doctor or pharmacist.

The more you understand about the medicines you take, the better you can watch out for mistakes. Make sure you do the same for a relative if they are incapable of doing so. If you or a family member suffer due to medication errors, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim.