Guard against prescription errors
Prescription errors happen all too often, sometimes with
tragic results. Medications can be mislabeled or misfilled. Patients
can be given the right medicine but with the wrong usage directions. Or
they can get the wrong medicines altogether.
National chains and mail-order pharmacies operate without a
strong patient/pharmacist link. And pharmacists scramble to fill more
prescriptions faster than ever before. To cope, they may shift duties to
less trained staff, allowing them to do such things as enter the doctor's
handwritten order into a computer.
These changes can spell trouble. Studies
suggest that up to 10 percent of outpatient hospital pharmacy and 20 percent of
retail pharmacy prescriptions are misfilled.
Adverse drug reactions
Another serious problem involves adverse drug reactions. It is estimated that
15 percent of all hospital patients suffer such a reaction.
In 1994 alone, nearly 106,000 patients may have died due to such reactions.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
New prescription errors
When you get a new prescription, ask the nurse or front-office
staff to write down the name, strength, and dosage amount. Then, when you
get the prescription filled, before you leave the counter:
Don't accept a generic substitution without first checking
with your doctor.
Never assume that a prescription once filled correctly will
always be filled correctly.
Check each refill for accuracy.
Do the pills look the same as the original order?
Does the label give the identical dosing instructions?
Develop a personal relationship with your pharmacist.
Find a pharmacy you like and stick with it. Fill
all your prescriptions there so the pharmacist can cross-check for drug
Maintain an up-to-date profile of your medical conditions
Go during off-hours when the pharmacist can spend more
time with you, answering your questions.
Inform your pharmacist when you begin taking a new
over-the-counter medicine or herbal remedy.
Above all, when you have questions or concerns, ask!
Keep a complete record of all prescription and non-prescription
medications (Our free Medication Record can help
with this, or use an IdentiMed
System to make the process even easier). This includes those:
Following these suggestions will involve some work.
However, it is time invested in your well-being.