Medical errors (according to a Johns Hopkins Medicine study) are the third leading cause of death in the United States, and over 1.5 million Americans harmed by medication errors each year! Most American adults take one or more prescription drugs, and the chance your prescription could be errant is as high as 1 in 20. A 5% chance is not a safe bet when your life is on the line!
The rate at which Americans consume prescription medication grows each and every year.
The number of pharmacists does not!
Pharmacies are usually overworked and understaffed, and typically employ an under-educated support staff. The wrong medication can be life-threatening, as can the wrong dosage of the right medication! Pharmacists have years of post-secondary education, and should not pose a danger to patients. Pharmacy technicians, who only need a GED and a few training courses, do.
Here are the steps you should take to keep yourself safe from prescription errors:
- When the doctor (or Nurse Practitioner) prescribes you medication, ask for a clear explanation of what they are prescribing.
- When you get your prescription filled, check inside the bag. Be certain the label on the bottle matches what your doctor prescribed.
- When you are given given the option to receive counseling on the medication from the pharmacist (and you should be!), say “yes!”
- Once you are home, check the pills. If anything looks wrong or unfamiliar, call the pharmacy immediately! This is incredibly important when refilling prescriptions.
These 4 steps are critical to prevent becoming a victim of prescription error. You should always make the extra time with your doctor, pharmacist, and the medication itself to double-check their work. Your health is too valuable to let a corner-cutting pharmacy jeopardize it!