It seems like every year your doctor prescribes you a new a medication. You’re currently taking two prescriptions for high blood pressure, one for depression, three for anxiety, and a host of other vitamins and allergy pills. Now, you have one more to add to the list for hypertension. It’s as if the number of prescriptions you have directly relates to your age.
Although you’re grateful that the meds are doing their jobs and you have been feeling better, you worry that the more drugs you take, the more risks you take. Since you have so many different types of medications, it’s hard to keep track of which one is which—so you rely heavily on their labels. However, over the past year alone, you’ve had three separate discussions with your pharmacy over confusing, mistyped, and downright incorrect labeling. It’s to the point where you won’t leave the counter until you have read each label and verified the contents of each bottle.
Obviously this doesn’t make you the most popular guy around. In fact you’ve noticed people running to get in line as soon as they see you, so they’re not stuck behind you at the counter. Although you find this slightly amusing, you don’t feel like you should have to worry so much about the pharmacy screwing up your prescriptions. Shouldn’t there be a verification process or something to make sure errors like these don’t happen?
Adoption of a Standard Labeling Format for Prescription Drug Containers
According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug. This means that over 220 million prescriptions are filled every month throughout the U.S. Although this is a lucrative business for pharmacies, the shear amount of prescriptions, types of pills, and varying dosages, increase the risk that a pharmacy, pharmacist, or pharmacy technician can mislabel your medication and cause serious harm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that thousands of overdoses a year are caused by misuse of poorly labeled medications—in 2012, 80 percent of the 42,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States were unintentional. The California State Legislature estimates that 46 percent of Americans can’t understand their prescription bottle labels, causing confusion and a learning rate of accidental overdose. This has prompted the California government to create the California Patient Medication Safety Act.
In order to address prescription error concerns, and decrease concern and confusion with taking prescription drugs, California has adopted a new prescription drug labeling system. This system will standardize labels throughout the state, making them easier to read and understand, while also providing added security and verification to stop pharmacy errors. The new labels will include:
- A standardized clear font size
- Placement of dose information directly on the bottle
- Clear information regarding the appearance of the prescription directly on the bottle (size, shape, lettering or numbering)
- Adequately translated information (in cases of bilingual or foreign language speakers)
Is it Enough?
Although several states have taken it upon themselves to attempt to reduce pharmacy and prescription errors, the risk of harm is still a growing concern. Do you think California is doing enough to prevent you and your family from suffering? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section provided. We help hundreds of families like yours get the help and advice they need following a prescription error. So we’d love to hear your opinion about your state’s actions—or lack thereof—for keeping your prescriptions as safe as possible.
Have questions or concerns about your own experience with a pharmacy issue? Contact us directly to discuss your rights and legal options. The consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose—but a wealth of knowledge to gain.