What is the high-alert medications list?

Some medications have been proven to be dangerous due to a defect or side effect they cause. Others, however, are simply considered to be “high risk.” The Institute for Safe Medication Practices has compiled a list of drugs that fit this category based on a number of factors. If you are taking a medication from this list, it is important to have a conversation with your doctor regarding why it is considered to have a heightened risk.

The ISMP places potentially dangerous drugs on this list when there is a chance that incorrectly administering them could have devastating effects on the patient. Any of the following examples demonstrate how a patient could be adversely affected: 

  • The wrong dosage of the drug is given.
  • The wrong medication is given.
  • The patient has an allergy to the medicine.

There are ways to prevent these mistakes. For example, the ISMP states that there should be limited access to the drugs on this list, and any activity surrounding them should be standardized. Further, computer systems or medical professionals should always double check labels and doses before giving these medications to a patient.

Lastly, providing patients with more information about these medications is key. You should always be aware of the potential side effects of any drug you are prescribed. Ask your physician questions and make sure he or she knows if you have any allergies. When taken correctly, these drugs may not be inherently dangerous, but medical negligence in handling them could quickly amount to a tragedy.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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