At the pharmacy, patients expect that the pharmacist and his or her team have extensive knowledge of the drugs they handle. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians require extensive training to ensure that they understand the differences between drugs and can distinguish between them by their names and their appearances. Additionally, pharmacists should have various resources on-site, such as medical manuals and electronic databases, to help them identify medications if there is any confusion.
Unfortunately, there are still over 20 million reported pharmacy errors each year in the U.S. Prescription errors can cause minimal complications at best, but some errors can cause serious illness or even death, especially when combined with other medications. In order to decrease your risk of taking the wrong prescription:
- Talk to your doctor about your medications. Write down the name of your medication, what it should look like, the proper dosage, and any generic brands you may be prescribed instead of the name brand.
- When you pick up your prescription, always compare the label and the drug to the information provided by your doctor to be sure it matches.
- After refilling a prescription, compare your refill to any remaining pills you have from your previous prescription.
- If you have any questions or concerns, consult the pharmacist or your doctor before you take the medicine.
Although these extra steps take time, they could prevent illness or even save your life in the event you have been given the wrong prescription.