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Joliet families can take action to avoid common medication errors

If you were to open your medicine cabinet right now, how many medications would you find?

You might find some pain relievers, cold and cough remedies or old and current prescriptions. Many Joliet residents rely on medications to help alleviate minor to severe symptoms of pain and other illnesses. Some of us only take medications a few times a year, while others rely on medications every day to help control chronic illnesses or other health problems. Medications certainly offer many benefits, but how do we know whether we are taking our medications correctly or whether the drugs are prescribed safely in the first place?

Will County residents who take medications or care for elderly family members who take prescription drugs on a daily basis need to understand that medication errors happen every day. Sometimes patients take their prescribed drugs incorrectly, and sometimes doctors prescribe drugs without understanding the risks certain medications may carry when used by vulnerable patients.

It is estimated that elderly residents in Illinois and throughout the entire U.S. account for about 30 percent of all patients who are prescribed medications. Although it is common for the elderly to take prescription medications, not all medications are safe for the elderly to use due to their age and the current state of their bodies. Some older patients' bodies simply cannot handle the potency of prescription medications.

When prescribing medications, doctors need to understand how a patient's age, weight and overall health may affect how a medication works. When doctors negligently prescribe medications, patients could be at risk of suffering serious or fatal injuries.

The first step families can take to avoid a medication error is to ask doctors whether a prescribed medication is potentially more harmful when prescribed to elderly patients. If the drug carries more risks when used by the elderly, patients and their families should then ask their doctors whether there are any alternative medications patients can try. When patients do take prescription drugs, it is important to review instructions and warnings so that patients are aware of risks and know how to take their medications correctly.

The American Geriatrics Society has endorsed what is called the Beers Criteria list, which lists drugs that may be harmful for elderly patients to take. Before agreeing to try a new medication, families should check the Beers list in order to determine whether the drug is recommended or not for elderly folks.

Source: 6 abc, "Simple solution to drug errors for elders," Jan. 23, 2013

  • Our firm provides counsel to patients and families who have been harmed by medication errors caused by negligent doctors and hospitals in Joliet and throughout Illinois. To learn more about our firm and practice, please visit our Will County medication error lawyer page.

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