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Prescription errors: The risk to patients

Prescription mistakes can put patients' lives in danger, which is why it's so important for doctors to get their patients' prescriptions right the first time. Even if a doctor gets the prescription right, a pharmacist could make a mistake. For this reason, it's wise for patients to have a full discussion with the medical provider about what the medication is and what to expect.

Pharmacists fill up to 25 prescriptions an hour, and at that rate, there is a risk of error. A label could be printed incorrectly, the wrong medication could given to the wrong patient, or worst of all, similar medications could get mixed up, leading to the wrong prescription being given to a patient but with the correct prescription information.

One of the most common errors is a prescription label that has incorrect directions for use. Getting the wrong dose or the wrong medication is possible, both of which are dangerous for patients.

Another medication error that could occur is if a patient takes a medication that interacts with another they're already on. A negative interaction could lead to serious complication or potentially even death.

How can patients stay safe?

Start by focusing on your prescription when you pick it up. Ask what it's meant to do and look at it at the counter. Review the paperwork given to you. If the medication doesn't seem to add up with what your doctor allegedly prescribed, take time to clear up confusion; it could save your life.

If you are hurt, remember that it's a good idea to get medical help and report the injury. Someone can be held accountable.

Source: U.S. News, "How to Deal With Prescription Mistakes," Lisa Esposito, accessed June 07, 2018

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