3 Things You Need to Do With Your Prescription Before You Leave the Pharmacy

3 Things You Need to Do With Your Prescription Before You Leave the Pharmacy

More and more pharmacies are making big mistakes with your prescription medications, according to a recent report.

The New York Times says that many workers in major pharmacy chains are overworked and under so much pressure that they are getting prescriptions wrong.

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The article indicates that the last comprehensive study on the topic was done in 2006 and showed that prescription mistakes harm 1.5 million Americans each year.

Do These 3 Things Before You Leave the Pharmacy

First of all, let’s acknowledge this: We all make mistakes, especially in high-pressure situations.

Money expert Clark Howard says that the troubling thing is that the report indicates that the high number of errors may be due to quotas that workers are expected to fill.

“I know that every pharmacy chain claims that they have systems in place to prevent this, but if that were true, why are so many prescriptions being filled wrong?” Clark says.

To lessen the chances that you’ll suffer from one of those mistakes, what you want to do is help the pharmacist — and yourself — by looking out for errors. Here are three things you should do:

1. Talk to the Pharmacist

You should feel free to ask anything that can help alleviate your concerns, including these questions:

  • What dosage should I be taking?
  • How many times a day or a week?
  • What are the side effects?

By asking these questions, you may help the pharmacist remember drug interactions and related information they’re required to tell you.

2. Double Check the Prescription Name

As unfortunate as it sounds, there are times when the pharmacist simply gives you the wrong medicine. Drug names can be very similar. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices even has a List of Confused Drug Names that both pharmacists and patients sometimes get wrong.

As another safety check, look for your name and date of birth on the pill bottle. That way, you’ll make sure it’s yours and not for someone with a similar name.

3. Open The Bag and Look at The Pills

You should get in the habit of making sure your pills pass the eye test. That means before you leave the pharmacy, you need to open the bag and look at your pills.

“A lot of times you’ll recognize the shape and size of the pill,” Clark says. Some pharmacies even put on the packaging what the shape and size of the pill should look like, especially with maintenance medicines.

Clark says a pharmacist told him long ago: “‘Remember, pharmacists are human. Always look at the prescription before you leave the store.’ And that’s what I do: I tear open the bag that they’ve just stapled, and I look at them to make sure they have the right thing.”

Bottom Line

Take the steps to protect your health and your family’s health. The key is to make sure your medicine is right and to not be in such a rush.

"What you and I can do is make sure that the medicines that are in the prescriptions are, as best as we can determine, the right one," Clark says. "And if you can't figure it out, this is why you open them before you leave the store."

Clark says this is what you can tell the pharmacist: “Hey, this doesn’t look like what this med has looked like when I’ve taken it in the past. Do you mind verifying that this is the right thing?”

Not only will the pharmacist appreciate you bringing it to their attention, but you’ll give them an opportunity to educate you even more about your medicine. The conversation will either put your mind at ease or help you discover a mistake before it impacts your health.

Want to know more about how to get prescriptions for less? Check out these tips on how to save on prescription drugs.

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