Doctors prescribe medications to cure illnesses and to keep people healthy. Unfortunately, there are risks when taking any medication. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are more than one million emergency hospital visits each year in the United States due to using medications (Source: It’s important to apply safety standards whenever you are taking medications to avoid injury and, in severe cases, death. The following protocols are the first steps to keeping you and others safe.

Tell your doctor about all medications you take

Take a list of the medications you take every time you visit the doctor. Your medication list should include prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and any supplements you take. Be sure to include the daily dosage of each medication. This information will help your doctor avoid any harmful drug interactions if a new prescription medication is needed. Make a point to discuss possible side effects of new medications or changes to current medications.

Make sure the pharmacist can read the prescription 

Once you’ve left the doctor’s office, the pharmacy is the next step to picking up your prescription. It’s also the next place an error in your medication can occur. If the prescription is handwritten, it’s imperative that the name of the medication and the dosage prescribed is clear and unmistakable. Receiving the wrong dosage of a medication can have dangerous effects.

Before leaving the pharmacy, talk with your pharmacist, as well, about potential side effects and drug interactions. Be safe: double check!

Throw out old medications 

Don’t keep unused or expired medications in your home. Having them around creates an opportunity for you to mix up your medications. Children are also at risk for taking medications accidentally or abusing them intentionally. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends disposing of unused medications in one of three ways:

  1. Drop off the medication at a drug take-back location
  2. Flush them down the toilet (only if they are on the approved list)
  3. Throw them away (in a sealed baggie mixed with dirt or coffee grounds)

For a list of drug take-back locations, medications approved to flush, and instructions on trashing medications, visit the FDA website (Source:

Keep a medications list for your parents 

Just like the medication list you keep for yourself, it’s smart to have a list of your parents’ medications, as well. It will come in handy if you are attending doctor appointments with them. As a medical advocate, it will also help you to ask questions at both the doctor’s office or at the pharmacy. In the event of a medical emergency, having a list of their prescription and non-prescription medications will be invaluable information.

Call The James Law Firm 

Even with your best effort, medical accidents can still happen. The James Law Firm has the experience, compassion, and knowledge needed to tackle even the most complex medical error cases. If you’re a victim of a medical error and have been injured anywhere in Iowa, don’t hesitate to call us today at 515-246-8484. We represent clients in Des Moines, Davenport/Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Sioux City, Council Bluffs, and more. We will travel to help you!