About 21 million people in the US have impaired glucose tolerance, a prediabetic condition that is diagnosed through blood tests. According to recent research, impaired glucose tolerance is 81% less likely to turn into full-blown diabetes if patients take the prescription drug pioglitazone (Actos).

Possible side effects: Weight gain...edema (swelling)...increased fracture risk in postrnenopausal women.

Simple Fixes for Medication Errors

I have been a member of a committee organized by the Institute of Medicine, a government advisory group in Washington, DC, to study and find solutions to the medication error problem in America.

Our report, based on the findings of several studies and the testimony of more than 100 experts, made front-page headlines across the country.

Among our findings: Each year, at least 1.5 million Americans are seriously harmed by medication errors (with at least 7,000 deaths). Statistically, every hospitalized patient can expect to be the victim of a medication error at least once a day for each day that he/she is hospitalized... tens of thousands of errors occur at local pharmacies each month....and more than 800,000 medication errors occur in nursing homes annually. Although the dangers of medication errors were widely reported in the media, the solutions were hardly discussed. What you can do to help protect yourself—and your family…

  • Keep a current list of all your medications. One of the most dangerous medication errors involves a doctor prescribing a drug that causes a serious interaction with another drug or supplement. Most doctors do not know all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and other supplements their patients take, so keep a list of everything you take (and the dosage). Take the list with you to every doctor visit and hand it to the doctor before he writes a new prescription. For information on interactions, check the FDA Website (www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates, then search "drug interactions”).
  • Double-check drugs at the pharmacy. Pharmacy errors can occur when the pharmacist is in a rush or can't read the doctor's handwriting.

Helpful: Ask your doctor to write the name of the drug on a piece of paper along with the dosage. Compare this information with what you are handed at the pharmacy or what is delivered to you from a mail-order pharmacy. If there is a discrepancy, do not accept the drug until you have checked with the pharmacist. If the prescription is a refill, make sure the pills match those you already have.

  • When hospitalized, bring an advocate. Studies show that error rates drop dramatically if a family member or friend is with a hospitalized patient to help oversee medications. Your advocate should...

1. Create a list of the drugs you were taking before being hospitalized to share with every doctor and nurse who treats you.

2. Get a list of all the drugs you are taking in the hospital and the times they should be given.

3. Monitor the drugs themselves, looking for any differences, such as size, color or dosages, and keep a log of what medication was given when.

4. Refuse any new or different drugs that have not been discussed by a doctor or nurse with you or the advocate. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, having a family member or friend visit daily to monitor the medication log will reduce errors dramatically.

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in