When you hear the words “medical malpractice,” the odds are high that you don’t immediately think about pharmacy errors – but maybe you should. You probably visit your pharmacist more often than you do your doctor, clinic or hospital.
Medication errors cost between 7,000 and 9,000 people their lives every year in the United States – and countless others are seriously injured. To protect yourself or your loved ones, keep these tips in mind the next time you pick up your prescriptions:
1. Check the label on the bottle.
Two of the most common mistakes that occur with prescriptions occur when patients get the wrong medication or wrong dose. Make sure that the label says exactly what you expect it to say. If you have any doubts – for example, if you’re unsure if hydroxychloroquine is the generic name for Plaquenil – ask the pharmacist if you have the right medication.
2. Make sure your pharmacist and doctors know all your medications.
If you see more than one doctor, make sure all of them know exactly what medications you are taking, regardless of who prescribed them. That can cut down on the risk that you’ll be given a new prescription that won’t play well with the rest. Similarly, make sure your pharmacist has your complete list of medications (and allergies) – even if you get prescriptions from more than one source.
3. If the pills don’t look familiar, don’t take them.
When you open a bottle on a prescription you’ve had before, and the pills don’t look familiar, take a hard pause until you can verify that those are the right pills. Most of the time, formulary changes are behind changes in shape and color, but you can never be too cautious.
If you or your loved one was injured by a pharmacy mistake, that could very well be medical malpractice. Find out more about your legal options for recovery as soon as possible.