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Steps taken by the FDA to prevent medication errors


At some point in our lives, most of us will need to take a prescription drug. These medications can be extremely beneficial, helping fight infection, disease, and ease pain. In some instances, taking the right medication can mean the difference between life and death. It is therefore critically important that doctors, nurses, and pharmacists take care when prescribing, fulfilling, and administering prescription medications.

Those Massachusetts residents who watch television, however, are well aware of just how many drugs are out there, all with complex sounding names. The plethora of medications, and their names, can cause problems, particularly when names look and/or sound similar. Fortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has taken steps to try to curtail medication confusion.

The FDA takes a very thorough approach when it comes to analyzing drug names. A medication's name, appearance when written, and pronunciation when spoken are all assessed for safety purposes. By analyzing drug names in this way, the FDA can determine if two different medications sound the same, or if a name inappropriately suggests a dosage or method of administration.

These measures go a long way towards keeping patients safe. However, even with completely unique, distinguishable medications, a doctor error can still put a patient in harm's way. When this happens, the patient can suffer a worsened condition, and he or she may need extensive medical care as a result. This can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. Therefore, those who have been harmed by a prescription error should consider whether filing a lawsuit is right for them. If negligence and causation can be satisfactorily shown, then compensation may be recoverable for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Source: FDA, "How FDA Reviews Proposed Drug Names," accessed on June 19, 2015

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