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Prescription errors are rising, but you can help protect yourself

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

It seems like there’s a pill for just about everything these days. Overall, that’s good news. However, more people getting more prescription medications coupled with shortages of pharmacists – especially at large chain stores – have left those in the profession overworked. 

This can lead to prescription errors. The Los Angeles Times recently published an investigative report on the disturbing number of pharmacy errors – some 5 million every day in California alone. 

Of course, this is a problem throughout the country, and New York is no exception. Some can cause serious and even fatal medical issues. 

Be sure your medication looks like it’s supposed to look

Fortunately, prescription labels are required to provide important information, including a physical description of the medication. A Google search can produce photos of the medication you’ve been prescribed. 

It’s easy for patients to get confused if they’re switched from a name brand to a generic version of the same drug, which may look completely different. Generic medication labels should list the comparable name-brand medication.

Be sure the dosage is correct

Even if the right drug is in the container, the wrong dosage information on the label can be highly dangerous. Of course, including a higher or lower dosage of medication by mistake can also have serious consequences. Be sure to double-check what dosage your doctor has prescribed. This should be in your doctor’s notes, which are usually available in your provider’s online patient portal if you don’t have a printed copy.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices recommends that patients open the bag with their medication before they leave the counter or the store to confirm that everything is correct – starting with the patient’s name. If you have any questions, it’s crucial to ask the pharmacist. 

If you have your prescriptions delivered, open them as soon as possible. If you received someone else’s prescription, someone else may have gotten yours. Call the pharmacy and report any problems immediately. It’s also important to make sure your pharmacy has your contact information. Sometimes, these errors are discovered at the pharmacy after the wrong prescription is dispensed.

These are all important precautions for patients to take whenever they fill or refill a prescription. However, they don’t relieve pharmacists of their responsibility and potential liability if they make an error that causes harm. If this has happened to you or a loved one, it’s wise to find out about your options for justice and compensation.