Most people don’t think of pharmacy errors as a type of medical malpractice. However, they are – and the consequences can be just as serious as any other kind of medical error. Moreover, between the growing number of prescription medications that Americans take regularly and the shortage of pharmacists, the chances of being harmed by a prescription error are increasing.
No matter how short-staffed and overworked a pharmacist may be, they still have an obligation to provide the correct medications to their customers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
That’s why it’s important for people to take the time to ensure that the prescription they’ve received is correct before they take it. If you pick it up at the pharmacy, you should do that before you leave. You have the right to ask the pharmacist questions you have.
What details do you need to verify before taking your medication?
The label on the medication container or other packaging should include a lot of information that can help you ensure that you’ve received the medication you’re supposed to. The documentation you should be given with the prescription contains more detailed information. Here’s a brief overview of what to look for.
- First, make sure the label on the prescription container or packaging has your name on it. If you have a relatively common name, check the prescribing doctor’s name to make sure it’s your doctor.
- Make sure the name of the medication is correct. If it’s a generic brand you haven’t gotten before, be sure it’s generic for the name brand you’re used to.
- Be sure your medication looks like it’s supposed to. Labels typically describe the medication contained inside. You can also do a quick online search for photos.
- Confirm that the dosage is accurate. This is where particularly serious errors can occur.
If you don’t know or don’t recall exactly what medication and dosage your doctor prescribed, look at your doctor’s notes. These are often given to patients when they leave their appointments. They can also be available online in your patient portal. If you don’t find them, call your doctor.
Neglecting to check that, however, doesn’t relieve a pharmacist from liability for giving someone the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage that harms them. If this has happened to you or a loved one, it’s a good idea to seek legal guidance as soon as possible.