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Take steps to prevent prescription errors

Problems with prescriptions can occur when patient names get confused, an instruction label is printed wrong or one is given pills at a stronger dosage than needed. Prescription errors could lead to serious health issues for Pennsylvania residents, but a pharmacist from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices has some tips for preventing drug errors.

When one is at a physician's office, it is important to understand what prescription is being given and why. A patient can ask a doctor to write down drug information and the instructions; he or she does not always receive this since many prescriptions are electronic now. Knowing why one is receiving a drug helps one verify that what he or she is given by the pharmacy is correct and not a drug with a similar name.

The ISMP estimates that checking a prescription bag before leaving the pharmacy prevents more than 50 percent of medication mistakes, so opening the bag, reviewing the patient name and looking at the pills may be necessary. Talking to a pharmacist or receiving counseling for a new prescription could prevent an error, and many pharmacies have areas where a customer can chat with a pharmacist in private.

If something seems wrong with a medication or one has an unexpected reaction, contact the pharmacy. Make sure the pharmacy and one's physician know when errors occur so that they can be prevented in the future.

Some prescription errors are easily fixed and cause little harm, but other incidents can result in a worsened condition, pain or new injuries. When negatively affected by these mistakes, one could seek compensation from the responsible medical professionals. One may wish to consult an attorney when filing a medical malpractice claim.

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