Consumer Information for Safe Medication Use

Experts estimate that as many as 98,000 people die in any given year from medical errors that occur in hospitals. A significant number of those deaths is due to medication errors. That is more than die from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS— three causes that receive far more public attention. Indeed, more people die annually from medication errors than from workplace injuries. Add the financial cost to the human tragedy, and medical error easily rises to the top ranks of urgent, widespread public problems.

The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP) defines medication error as "any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer. Such events may be related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems, including prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging, and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use."

In an ongoing effort to decrease the number of adverse events due to medication errors, NCC MERP has developed the following listing of resources to provide consumers with information on safe medication use. This listing is by no means an all-encompassing list, but should serve as a starting point for gathering information.