The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that around 1.3 million people suffer injuries and adverse health events due to medication errors each year in the U.S. According to a 2017 report by the AARP, one in five drug errors are associated with cardiovascular drugs, including medications designed to treat the symptoms of high blood pressure. In addition, errors associated with diabetes drugs increased by 300 percent in recent years.
A common cause of these errors is due to patients taking multiple medications at the same time. When patients are prescribed several drugs, it’s easy for them to make mistakes, such as taking the same medication twice or forgetting to take a medication. Doubling up on a dose can cause serious health problems, as can missing even a single dose.
To avoid these errors, experts recommend that patients who are prescribed multiple medications take the following precautions:
- Talk to your doctor about your medications—Knowing which medications you’re prescribed and why you’re prescribed them can help you more easily keep track of each pill you take.
- Use a pill organizer to prevent missed or double doses—Once a week, take time to separate out your pills for the next seven days. Pill organizers are divided by day, which makes it easy to determine if you’ve already taken your medications for that day.
- Make lifestyle changes to reduce medications if possible—Some conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and pain, can be managed via lifestyle modifications. In some cases, that can result in not having to take as many medications, simplifying your daily routine.