Prevent Potential Medication Mistakes

This is an important lesson – for the elderly, for you and for your other loved ones!

Medical errors can occur anywhere in our health care system. Most often, they happen in hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, pharmacies, and patients’ homes. And the most often error is medication management – or lack thereof.

For your elderly loved ones, one in seven people experience a medical error. They can happen during even the most routine tasks, such as when a hospital patient on a salt-free diet is given a high-salt meal. Sadly, most errors result from problems created by today’s complex health care system. But errors also happen when doctors and patients have problems communicating or managing their medication – or worse, begin self-medicating.

These tips, along with the help from Hopkinton Home Care – tell what you can do to get safer care.

What Can You Do To Help Your Loved Ones Stay Safe?

The best way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your loved ones health care team – and if you are lacking time or understanding, Hopkinton Home Care can help with our experience and expertise.

Research shows that family and patients who are more involved with their medication management get better results (and avoid potential problems).

Here are our top tips:

Make sure that all of their doctors know about every medicine you are taking. This simple tip includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements, such as vitamins and herbs.

Bring all medicines and supplements to every doctor visit. “Brown bagging” medication can help facilitate a healthy discussion. It can also help your doctor keep your records up to date and help you get better quality care.

Make sure the doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions they have had to medicines. This can help them/you to avoid getting a medicine that could cause harm.

When the doctor writes a prescription, make sure they/you understand it and can read it! If you cannot read the doctor’s handwriting, your pharmacist might not be able to either.

Ask for information about your medicines in terms that you can all understand—both when medication is prescribed and when they are picked up:

  • What is the medicine for?
  • How to take it and for how long?
  • What side effects are likely? What to do if they occur?
  • Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements?
  • What food, drink, or activities should be avoided while taking this medicine?

When the medication is picked up from the pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed?

Ask for written information about the side effects the medicine could cause. If they/you know what might happen, you will be better prepared if it does or if something unexpected happens.

If the treatment is being handled in a hospital, consider asking all health care workers who will touch your loved one whether they have washed their hands. Hand washing can prevent the spread of infections in hospitals.

When your loved one is being discharged from the hospital, ask the doctor to explain the treatment plan to follow at home. This includes learning about the new medicines, making sure you know when to schedule follow-up appointments for your loved one, and finding out when they can get back to your regular activities. A few words come to mind when managing medication – some are stubborn!

Speak up if you have questions or concerns. Or call Hopkinton Home Care for a consult. We can advocate for you! You and your loved ones have every right to question anyone who is involved with your care.

Make sure that someone, such as your primary care doctor, coordinates all care. Hopkinton Home Care can support this effort as well. This is especially important if you there are several health problems.

Ask a family member, someone from Hopkinton Home Care or a friend to go to appointments with your loved one. Even if they do not need help now, they might need it later. …And, many patients only hear what they want to hear or forget what to ask. Be sure to write down any questions prior to the appointment.

Know that “more” medication is not always better. It is a good idea to find out why a test or treatment is needed and how it can help. You could be better off without it.

If you have a test, do not assume that no news is good news. Ask how and when you will get the results.

Educate yourself and your loved one Ask for the best educational sites for the condition of your illness.

Hopkinton Home Care wants to answer your personal and confidential questions. Only after we learn what you need can we let you know how we can meet those needs. Give us a call: 508-544-4650.


Our philosophy is to provide five star quality home care services with an assisted living focus on the entire needs of each and every individual that we serve. Some of the standard home care services include (but are not limited to):

  • personal care

  • medication management

  • meal preparation

  • transportation to and from appointments 

  • shopping and errands

Give us a call: 508-544-4650. Or visit our website:

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