To avoid medication errors, patients can turn to genetic testing

Complications from a medication can range from minor side effects to permanent, devastating harm. Some bad reactions can even be fatal. More than 100,000 people in the U.S. die each year due to drugs that are supposed to help them. Unfortunately, much of the time people in Illinois are harmed by drugs due to a medication error committed by a doctor or pharmacist. Common medication errorsinclude prescribing the wrong dosage or a patient getting a drug with similar name to the one they should have gotten.

Another common medical mistake occurs when the doctor prescribes a medication that his or her patient is allergic to. Some drugs are safe for many people but can cause severe reactions in others. Doctors should do what they can to make sure a patient can handle a medication before they prescribe it.

One way to determine whether you might have an adverse reaction to a medication is to look into your genes. Pharmacogenomics is a field of study that uses genetic testing to predict whether someone will suffer complications from a particular drug. Minor differences in our genetic makeup can determine whether a drug will be effective or not and even whether we might suffer severe side effects.

Currently, patients may have to pay for one of these tests themselves, as health insurance companies often will not cover them. Prices for the test range from $400 into the thousands. That can be expensive, but may help protect patients from debilitating, expensive complications in the future.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, “How genetic testing can prevent some medication errors,” Edgard Janer, July 24, 2013

Medication Errors


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