With so many medications having similar names but varied purposes, it’s not surprising that mistakes are sometimes made. Whether a doctor writes a prescription for the wrong drug or a pharmacist fills the wrong one, the patient is the one who is at risk when that happens.
If a medication is incorrect, a few things can happen. For example, the patient:
- May be fine, and the drug could have no ill-effects
- Could have severe side effects and be taken to the hospital
- May pass away from a drug overdose
- Could pass away from drug interactions
- May take the medications, fall ill, and be misdiagnosed with another condition
As you can see, many different issues could arise just from filling the wrong medication for a patient.
Isn’t it difficult for the wrong medication to be ordered or filled?
It’s harder for the wrong medication to be filled today than it was in the past. For example, today medical providers have access to computer systems that may alert them to drug interactions. This only works if all the patient’s medications are inputted or all the new prescriptions are going into the system together, though.
On the pharmacist’s end, things are now easier to understand because most doctors have digital prescriptions, not hand-written prescriptions. Mistakes because of legibility are less likely.
That being said, errors do still happen. A pharmacy tech may grab the wrong bottle of medication off the shelf for a patient because of reading the prescription incorrectly, or a doctor could order an incorrect dosage or medication for the patient’s condition. The system isn’t foolproof, which is why patients still need to be wary.
What can you do to minimize the risk of injuries from incorrect prescriptions?
As a patient, you should take charge of your medical care. Know which medications you take and what dosage you should be on. Look up the interactions that may exist online, and ask questions if you’re concerned about side effects or changes in how your medications look, taste or smell. By taking these simple steps, you may be able to avoid injury and help yourself and your providers prevent a malpractice case.