How to Avoid Medication Errors Before Surgery

Internal Medicine World ReportApril 2007
Volume 0
Issue 0

1. Plan ahead. Before your scheduled surgery, meet with the surgeon to find out what you need to do to prepare for the operation, such as going over which medications you’re taking, and transferring your medication records. If there is something you don’t understand about the procedure or about what you should do before the surgery, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

2. Ask questions. Make sure you understand if you need to do anything at home to prepare for your surgery. If you need to take a medication before your operation, read all the instructions that come with the medication. Feel free to ask your physician or pharmacist questions.

3. Take a list. On the day of your surgery, bring an up-to-date list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking and the names of all healthcare providers you are currently seeing, along with their contact information.

4. Allergies. Tell the nurses and doctors involved in your surgery—and all your healthcare providers—about any food or drug allergies that you have, even if they don’t seem that important to you.

5. Body marks. Ask the surgeon to use a marker on the part of your body that is going to be operated on. Both the doctor and you should then use the marker to sign your name where the body part is marked.

6. Keep asking. You’ll be moved from one area to another when you have surgery. Unless you’ve been given medication to put you to sleep, you should always ask where you’re being taken and why. Ask the person to check your ID wristband. If the answers to your questions don’t seem right, keep asking until you’re sure that everything is okay.

7. Medical chart. If you’re awake when you’re taken to the area where the surgery will be done, make sure that your medical chart goes with you.

Source: United States Pharmacopeia Center for the Advancement of Patient Safety.

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