Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cut to the Chase: How to Avoid Pharmacy Errors

Since we are more likely to remember three things versus the popular “top ten,”  this coming year you’ll be seeing a lot more “cut to the chase” posts where we focus on three things versus a laundry list of items. Let me know if you think this is easier.

Recently a friend’s parent ended up receiving the wrong dosage of a medicine, which resulted in very serious health consequences. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this in people with various types of chronic conditions. With many pharmacists working long hours, and the aging of the baby boomers,  it’s not surprising that more than 100,000 Americans die each year of adverse drug reactions. Scary but true-at least one study found that one in every eight prescriptions filled had a mistake.

What to do:
1. Discuss the medication being prescribed with your provider in detail before you get the prescription filled. Know the generic and label name; why you’re taking it; dosage; side effects; when and how to take it; whether it replaces other drugs you may be taking or if there could be interactions with meds or supplements (vitamins count) your on. Write this information down and compare it to what’s on the bottle/box when you receive the prescription.

2. Use one pharmacy. Many people with chronic conditions have multiple doctors. It is not uncommon for a specialist to write a prescription that could create problems when taken with another medication. Because a primary pharmacy will keep track of your prescribing history, they are more likely to pick up on conflicting medications, as well as note when there has been a significant change in dosage. Sometimes the change in dosage is a clerical error.

3. Examine your Prescription Before Using and Call/talk to the the pharmacist when:
-       • The information on the prescription bottle does not match information provided by your medical provider
-       • A refilled prescription doesn’t look like what you’ve been taking and/or the label contains a different name, direction or dosage.

-       • A liquid prescription doesn’t come with a dropper or measuring device and/or you are unsure how to use it.

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