Doctors are constantly seeing patients—going in and out of patient rooms—and prescribing many prescription drugs daily. Because they are continually multitasking and trying to prescribe medications quickly, prescription mistakes do occur more than most people realize.
Because serious injuries and death can occur due to medication mistakes, there are some things consumers can do in the doctor’s office to help reduce their chances of being a victim of prescription drug errors, including:
- Ask your doctor what the medication is. Get the name of the drug—brand name and generic—and write it down.
- Find out the reason for the drug and what the medication is intended to do for you.
- Ask about the dosage, frequency, and duration of taking the medication.
- Find out if there are potential side-effects of the drug.
- Explain to your doctor the other drugs you are currently taking, even over-the-counter medications.
- Double check the written prescription with the information that the doctor just told you.
While double-checking medication information with your doctor is crucial, it is also critical to double check your prescription with the pharmacist. Here are some things you can do to help reduce your chances of suffering a medication mistake at a pharmacy:
- Double check with the pharmacist if the name of the prescription is the same with that of what the doctor prescribed.
- If it isn’t, ask the pharmacist why there was a change.
- Read the label carefully looking for dosage, duration, and instructions.
- Confirm that the dosage and frequency of the medication is the same as what the doctor told you.
- Ask the pharmacist if there is any discrepancy.
- Make sure there is a print out of the drug information in the bag.
- Ask the pharmacist any questions you may have.
Although doctors and pharmacists shouldn’t make mistakes, prescription errors are common. This is why patients should be their own advocates for preventing medication errors.