How to Avoid Pharmacy Errors

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Pharmacy errors make for a large part of the medical negligence cases that occur every year, and in fact, every day. You might think that this type of malpractice doesn’t produce the worst cases, but receiving the wrong medication can result in great injury, and even death in certain cases. Very controversial was the case of a Canadian woman who miscarried due to the wrong prescription; when she found out she was pregnant, the woman wanted to get a prescription for prenatal vitamins, under the brand Materna.

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Her surprise and desperation were great when, a few weeks later, she miscarried; in the beginning she never though the medication could have anything to do with this, until she noticed that her pills were called Matulane, and not Materna. Unfortunately, Matulane is a chemotherapy drug, used for the treating of Hodgkin’s disease, and it is meant to interfere with cell growth. Pharmacy errors like these can ruin someone’s life, and even take it as this case illustrates. Certain drugs are extremely potent and poisonous if not administered correctly, and this kind of medical negligence should be better regulated and contained.

Studies show that out of 3 billion prescriptions per year in the United States, 30 million are dispensing errors, a huge number even though in most cases the issue is not serious. Outpatient pharmacies seem to be the main culprit for these errors, but there are ways in which we can protect ourselves and avoid injury caused by other’s negligence:

  • Don’t fill prescriptions at the beginning of the month – One way to avoid pharmacy errors is to avoid filling your prescriptions when pharmacies are at their busiest. Social Security checks arrive at the beginning of the month, so most people fill in their prescriptions then; the busy schedule makes pharmacists make more errors, and it is said this period sees a 25% increase over the rest of the month.
  • Open the medication in the pharmacy – If the medication you take doesn’t look anything special, opening the bottle and double-checking with your pharmacist can save you from mishaps. This may not counteract every error, but it might still save a few lives now and again.
  • Be patient and careful – You might be in a rush to deal with your other errands and chores, but when you’re going to the pharmacy, have your mind set on that and focus on what you have to do. It may be that most pharmacy errors are the pharmacist’s fault, but you can understand how stressful certain jobs are, and how easy it can be do make a mistake. But if you are careful yourself – it is in your best interest, after all – you can avoid most medication errors.
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These are a few ways in which you can avoid taking the wrong medication; perhaps in the future we will manage to create systems that avoid pharmacy error, but until then we just have to use our common sense and be more attentive when it comes to our health.

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