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Medication errors – where a patient is given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of the correct medication – are among some of the deadliest mistakes in the medical field. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 1.9 million people were injured as the result of some kind of medical mistake in 2008 – up from 1.2 million injuries in 2004.

A recent study by Consumer Reports may illustrate the role that pharmacies play in these types of injuries: After visiting consumer pharmacies in a number of chain stores – CVS, Target, Walgreens, Costco and Walmart – the magazine’s researchers found that four out of five of the pharmacies did not provide medication guides to patients that are required by the federal government. In addition, the study found that for some chains, the information provided to customers about the medications ordered varied from one store to the next – with some stores not giving out any information at all.

“Our small spot check reveals major differences among the warnings on the bottle and among the patient information material,” Lisa Gill, the magazine’s Prescription Drug Editor told WebMD. “It’s shocking that the FDA medication guide was not included in four of the five prescription bags. Consumers need to be ever vigilant, especially when you consider how many medication errors there are.”

Some ways that consumers can exercise vigilance – which can save them from serious medication errors – include asking questions about the medications they are being given and keeping a list of the medications that they take. In some cases, consumers can make lifestyle changes – such changing their diet and exercise habits – that can reduce the need for certain medications all together.

But no matter how many precautions a patient might take, medical errors can still occur. If you have been injured by a medication error made by a physician or a pharmacist, you may be able to get compensated for this negligence. By contacting a qualified personal injury attorney, you may be able to receive help with your medical bills or, if a loved one has died because of a medication error, compensation for the wrongful death.