There have been countless news stories of children being hospitalized after a pharmacy error, or an elderly person misreading a drug label and taking 10 times the recommended dose.
“These kinds of mix-ups are pretty common,” said pharmacist Michael Cohen. So common, in fact, that no one is immune.
“I’ve done it myself,” Cohen, president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, admitted.
Cohen said there are many ways patients can make simple medication mistakes that could have dire consequences. One such way is taking pills without reading the label. Cohen made this mistake when he accidentally took his wife’s prednisone instead of the daily aspirin he takes to prevent heart attacks. He didn’t turn on the light to check the label.
“The pills were different colors, but I couldn’t see that because it was dark,” Cohen said.
While Cohen admits that this mistake was his fault, he said many mistakes happen behind the pharmacy counter. Most mistakes include simple errors, such as putting one patient’s label on the bottle and a different patient’s label on the bag.
“I tell people to check the names on the containers before they leave the pharmacy,” Cohen said. “Make sure all the drug labels have your name on them. And if you’re refilling a prescription, make sure the pills look the same as last time. If they don’t, question the pharmacist.”
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