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What can patients do about skyrocketing prescription errors?

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | Medication Errors

There are more prescription medications on the market than ever, which for the most part is a good thing. Many conditions can be treated or managed with drugs that in the past were untreatable. 

At the same time, there’s a serious shortage of pharmacists – especially at the large chain drug stores that most people use. That’s in part due to burnout by many in the profession. Those who are working are often doing the job of several people. 

This is all a recipe for pharmacy errors – a lot of them. According to an investigative report published in the Los Angeles Times last fall, five million prescription errors occur every day in California. In that sense, we’re not unique. It’s a problem throughout the country.

Patients can help catch errors before they can cause harm

Certainly, it’s up to doctors to prescribe the right medication and dosage and for pharmacists to correctly fill and dispense the medication. Nonetheless, patients (and their caregivers) can also help minimize the chances of harm if there was an error by taking a few precautionary steps before using the medication. This is especially important for a newly prescribed medication. 

For example, be sure the medication fits the physical description on the label and ensure that the dosage is what your doctor prescribed. If you’re picking up the prescription at the pharmacy, open it before you leave to make sure it’s correct. Start by making sure the name on it is yours. Pharmacies have been known to give customers the wrong person’s prescription. 

If you have your prescriptions delivered, open them as soon as you get them to make sure they’re correct. You could potentially save someone else from taking the wrong medication. It’s also crucial to make sure that your pharmacy has your current phone number. This way, they can notify you immediately if they discover an error with your prescription.

While these precautions are important, as noted, it’s the responsibility of doctors, pharmacists and everyone involved in getting you the medication you need to do so correctly. If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a prescription error, find out what your options are for seeking justice and compensation.