Pharmacists Make Mistakes. You Can Protect Yourself

One of the most common mistakes made in pharmacies is dispensing a prescription to the wrong patient, according to the institute, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing medication errors.

The correct name of the patient should be on the bag (usually on a printout stapled to the outside) as well as on the box or bottle inside it that contains the medication. It is important to check both; sometimes the bag is right, but the medication is not.

Also check the address and birth date, in case someone with a similar name had a prescription waiting as well.

Patients who get refills of the same medications month after month are more likely to recognize a pill that looks different, yet they might assume that the pharmacy has switched to a different generic or a new supplier. Make no such assumption.

Start by reading the bottle. Many include a description of the pills. If the bottle says “round yellow pills” and it is filled with oval blue ones, something is amiss.

But sometimes the differences are subtler. Fortunately, the internet is filled with websites that can help. WebMD has a search engine to help identify pills, as do AARP, Medscape, and the National Library of Medicine.

Most drugs come with an informational leaflet. Take a look to make sure the medication matches the ailment being treated.

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