Prescription medication is dispensed in different containers, in different dosages, and with different instructions that vary widely depending on the pharmacy filling the prescription. While some medication mistakes are caused by patients themselves, others are caused by poor and confusing medication labels. Additionally, many of the errors that cause a patient to take an incorrect dosage are caused by inconsistent labels.
Consumer Reports compared different pill bottles from various pharmacies to see how the different labels stacked up. This report “A Closer Look at Prescription Bottle Labels” can be found here. Some of the findings include:
- Different pharmacies used different fonts and point sizes (some instructions were written in 12-point font and others were harder to read when written in 8-point font and smaller – making it almost unreadable).
- Different pharmacies used darker or lighter ink (lighter ink made it more difficult to read the label).
- Different pharmacies put the generic and brand name of the drug on the bottle and others only list the generic name.
- Different pharmacies include drug warnings written on the drug label itself and others placed warning stickers horizontally on the pill bottle. Yet, some pharmacies forgot to print warning labels entirely.
Confusing labels can cause patients to become puzzled about how many pills they should or shouldn’t be taking. When the pill bottle reads “take two pills twice daily,” the words cause some people to take one pill two times a day (for a total of two pills), while others may take two pills at two different times a day (for a total of four pills). This label confusion can lead to the wrong dosage of medication taken.
Consumer packaging and labeling should be as error-proof as possible. Because of the inconsistencies and the confusion, many are left wondering if the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry are doing enough to prevent drug errors from occurring. Some suggestions include dispensing pills in blister packages so patients can tell what they should take on which day and making changes to prescription labels so that all labels – no matter the pharmacy – would be consistent.
Sadly, errors in prescribing and labeling have caused many people to become sick, to be injured, or to die and most of these errors could have been prevented from ever occurring in the first place. If you have been harmed due to a prescription error, wrong dosage or other drug error, please call Kennedy Hodges L.L.P. for a free consultation with a knowledgeable drug error lawyer at 888-526-7616. Make sure you also request a FREE copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.