SARASOTA – Parents and caregivers will do anything to help a sick loved one feel better, but a new study finds more Americans are accidentally making matters worse by taking or giving the wrong dose of medication.


A 13 year study at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio found every year between 2002 and 2012, more than 63,000 kids under the age of 6 suffered a medication error out of the hospital, and it’s not just the younger population.


The CDC reports more than 177,000 older adults visit the ER each year for an adverse drug event.


“A lot of it includes dosing, so taking the right amount of medication, taking the right medication, taking them at the right time,” says Advance Practice Nurse of Geriatrics, Karen Reynolds.


Reynolds says a lot of it comes down to health literacy. “That’s really the ability to obtain, understand and process the health information that you’re given,” she says.


Reynolds says responsibility falls on patients and healthcare providers to use the method ‘teach back.’ “That’s a method where healthcare providers are able to talk and give the information to the patient or the individual and then have them return demonstrate or show what they’ve learned and how they’ve learned it,” explains Reynolds.


Reynolds says teach back shows how much the patient understands, and it’s always a good idea to have an extra ear. “Caregivers or individuals as advocates, it’s good to have someone there with you to facilitate those questions that you have and again how you’re going to work that into your lifestyle,” she says.


Once you’re home, take advantage of pill boxes or tell someone when you’ve taken your dose. “You can load the dosages in whatever times of day you have to take them and do it ahead of time for a week’s schedule,” suggests Reynolds.


She also recommends taking all of your medication with you to each doctor’s visit.


“Take your medications with you to all your appointments so all your providers can help,” says Reynolds. “There’s a multitude of doctors you may be seeing and they all need to know what they’re prescribing for you, how those medications interact, and then again you can go ahead and talk to the providers on when you’re taking them, how you’re taking them, and then we can identify concerns as well.”