Family Medicine Healthcare | Primary Care Physician | Family Doctor | Hampton Roads, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Suffolk, VA.

How to Avoid a “Medication Messup”

What medications, including OTC and herbal supplements, are you currently taking? Do you know? Does your doctor know? If not, you may want to make a list to bring to your next visit. It could save your life.




1.5 Million Americans are sickened, injured or killed each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing and taking medication. The populations most at risk are geriatrics and pediatrics. That is since more than half of pediatric patient visits result in a prescription.

12% of the US population is greater than 65 years of age and consume about 30% of prescription medication. This is why it is critical that patients bring their medications for visits or admissions, so that the doctors are able to document medications as well as dosages. This should include any herbals or vitamins as well as over the counter drugs. I encourage family members to become involved in the care of elderly patients. Provide them with a list of their medications, the dosages, as well as allergies.

One medication may have many drug names, which may create confusion in regards to the drug. Always write down the brand name of the drug that you’re using if utilizing a list and ensure that you spell the generic name properly. It is important for patients who are traveling to take enough medication with them for the duration of their travel. That is since, medications from other countries may differ from those that are FDA approved in the US. In addition, brand names are used for different drugs in different countries.

Ways to Avoid Medication Errors at Home:

  • Make a list of current medication
  • Update med list when medications change
  • List all allergies to food or medications
  • Keep medications in original container
  • Read the label before taking any medication
  • Read the patient information sheet and call the pharmacy if there is a change is shape, size or color of your medication
  • Don’t take anyone else’s medication
  • Discard expired medications
  • Discard all medications one year after they are dispensed.


As you read this article consider taking your medications to your next doctor’s visit for review and update. It’s the simple things like this that can save your or a loved one’s life.

~ Dr. Abdelshaheed


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