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Medication Errors

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Medicines cure infectious diseases, prevent problems from chronic diseases, and ease pain. But medicines can also cause harmful reactions if not used correctly. Errors can happen in the hospital, at the doctor's office, at the pharmacy, or at home. You can help prevent errors by

  • Knowing your medicines. Keep a list of the names of your medicines, how much you take, and when you take them. Include over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements and herbs. Take this list to all your doctor visits.
  • Reading medicine labels and following the directions. Don't take medications prescribed for someone else.
  • Taking extra caution when giving medicines to children.
  • Asking questions. If you don't know the answers to these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
    • Why am I taking this medicine?
    • What are the common problems to watch out for?
    • What should I do if they occur?
    • When should I stop this medicine?
    • Can I take this medicine with the other medicines on my list?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Start Here

  • (Food and Drug Administration)
  • Easy-to-Read (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion) Also in
  • (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists)

Related Issues

  • (Institute for Safe Medication Practices) - PDF
  • (Institute for Safe Medication Practices) - PDF


  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (Joint Commission) - PDF
  • (Food and Drug Administration)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists)


  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in


  • (Consumers Union of U.S.) - PDF
  • (Food and Drug Administration)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging)
  • From the National Institutes of Health Easy-to-Read (National Institute on Aging) - PDF

Patient Handouts



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