Taking Medication: Tips to Avoid Pharmacy Errors

Medication errors can cause adverse side effects, reduce or eliminate the intended benefit of the medication, and pose health risks. There are multiple causes of medication errors, including mistakes made in the pharmacy where you purchase your prescription. There are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of pharmacy errors.

Common Causes of Pharmacy Errors

Some common reasons pharmacy mistakes happen include the following.

  • illegible doctor handwriting on the prescription.
  • failure of the pharmacist to clarify uncertainties based on the prescription.
  • mistaking one drug for a similarly named drug.
  • improperly adding or eliminating necessary decimal points or zeros.
  • and, inaccurately labeled drug vials with incorrect dosage directions or missing warnings.

4 Tips for Avoiding Pharmacy Errors

You can take an active role in the administration of your medication. By becoming involved in the prescription process, you are protecting yourself from possible mistakes and under- or over-dosages that can have an impact on your recovery and/or overall health. Learn how you can talk to your doctor and the pharmacist to play an active role in your medication regimen.

Some tips for working with your medical professionals to minimize potential pharmacy errors follow.

1. Learn about your medication: Ask your doctor for the exact name of your prescription and how to spell it. Ask how to pronounce it properly if you’re unsure. This simple step will enable you to double-check the prescription label when you pick up your medication at the pharmacy.

2. Double-check your prescription: Whether you are picking up your first prescription or your 10th refill, check the medication. Review the label on the package to ensure that it is the correct drug name and dosage. Look at the medication itself. If it’s a refill, you want to be sure that it looks the same as the last package you received. Does the medicine itself have the same characteristics, such as size, color, shape or type?

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: If you’re unsure about any aspect of your medication — ask your pharmacist. If the drug name, instructions, dosage or appearance of the drug is not what you expected for any reason, inquire about your concerns. Also, clarify any dosage issues or questions about whether you can (or must) take the drug with food. If you are not provided printed information about your prescription, ask for it. There are no wrong questions — this is your health.

4. Keep your pharmacist updated and use the same trusted pharmacist all the time: If you return to the same pharmacist for all prescription needs, you will benefit from having a record in that pharmacy’s computer system. This type of historical information may help the pharmacist answer your questions and avoid making errors when filling or refilling your prescriptions. Keep the pharmacist informed if you add a new mail-order drug or need to fill a prescription somewhere else so he or she can add the data into your file.

If you get home and have additional questions about your medication or suspect pharmacy errors, call the pharmacy or go back to speak with someone. Taking the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of the correct medication can be dangerous and/or ineffective.

If harmed by pharmacy errors, get legal help!

If you believe you’ve been harmed as the result of pharmacy mistakes, you may need the help of an attorney to help you recover damages. Cordisco & Saile LLC can advise you of your rights in such a situation and will work to build your case so you recover a fair settlement. Give us a call at 215-642-2335 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.