Preventing Medication Errors

Prescription ErrorAt some time in our lives, we all have to go see a doctor, either for ourselves or a member of our family. Many times, the doctor will write a prescription, which may only be filled at a pharmacy.

Today there are more and more prescriptions being written and filled. Many times these prescriptions are difficult to read. The pharmacist works hard to make sure you get the right medicine prescribed by your doctor.

To get the fullest benefit from your prescription, avoid problems, and reduce possible side effects, ask your doctor or pharmacist the following questions:

  • What is the name of the medicine? What is it supposed to do?
  • What is the dose of the medicine?
  • Are there food, drinks, other medicines, or activities I should avoid while taking this medicine?
  • What are the possible side effects of the medicine? What should I do if they occur?
  • How long will I need to take the medication?

When you pick up your medicine at the pharmacy, check the label carefully to be sure it is the medicine you were prescribed by your doctor. And ask your pharmacist any questions you might have about the prescription.

Here are some tips on how to protect yourself against medication errors:

  • Open the bag at the counter. Check to be sure that you’ve been given what you should have.
  • Don’t sign too quickly. The paper pushed across the counter—the one most of us sign automatically—is an agreement that you’ve gotten the information you need. Don’t sign it without checking first.
  • Read the label carefully. Read every word. Check the name of the drug and directions for use. If the directions are unclear, ask the pharmacist to explain them. If the name on the label isn’t the name of your doctor, notify the pharmacist.
  • Look at the drug. If it’s a refill, does it look the same as the previous prescription? If not, ask the pharmacist.
  • Ask for printed information sheets. Ask the pharmacist if you need any additional counseling on the medication.
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