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Seven questions to ask to avoid medication errors


A new study shows that more than 1.5 million Americans are injured every year by drug errors in hospitals, nursing homes and doctor’s offices. The study, conducted by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), estimates that at least one medicine error happens every day.

In the award-winning patient safety film, THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE ENTERING THE HOSPITAL, patients and their advocates are advised to ask the following seven important questions each time a member of the hospital staff prescribes or brings medication:

1. What is this medicine for?
2. Who prescribed it?
3. When am I supposed to take it?
4. How am I supposed to take it… how often, for how long?
5. What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
6. Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements?
7. What food, drink or activities should I avoid while on this medicine?

According to the Agency for Healthcare, fifty-five percent of all hospital stays originate in the emergency room. One never knows when a loved one will have to be rushed to the emergency room which is why Leonard Lamkin, executive director, Chicago Patient Safety Forum believes that “.....This film belongs in everyone’s medicine cabinet.” The production is direct and to the point with caring humor that gives valuable insight into the potential hazards of the hospitalization experience without instilling fear or blame. Most significantly, it educates and informs.

Available on ISMP’s website and at, the film is ....“an exceptional safety guide for everyone, including healthcare providers” said Martin J. Hatlie, Esq., former attorney with the American Medical Association and now president, Partnership for Patient Safety, a patient-centered initiative to advance the reliability of healthcare systems worldwide. “Human error is a fact in healthcare just as it is in the rest of life. Doctors, nurses and patients have got to learn to work as a team and talk openly and honestly about preventing harm. Watch this film and hear the insightful advice that patients who have encountered medical error have to offer.”


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