The simplest way to recognize that you may have the incorrect medication is simply effectiveness. If a prescription does not have the intended effect, it’s possible that you received the wrong medication. The relative frequency of medication errors does beg one crucial question:
Why do medication errors happen?
A study published by the National Institute of Health listed several potential reasons for medication errors. Among the most concerning types of error are:
- Illegible writing: Doctor’s handwriting jokes aren’t helpful when the mistake can cause debilitating injuries or delay treatment of life-threatening conditions.
- Similar drug names: It’s not an illusion that medications appear to have odd names. There is a method to it, but that method can still create medications with relatively similar names.
- Missed drug interactions: One of the jobs of the pharmacist is to look at a patient’s medications, understand how they interact, and take steps to avoid a negative impact.
- Missed drug allergies: Some patients are allergic to common medications such as antibiotics; others are allergic to ingredients in a drug. The pharmacist is the last line of defense on these types of mistakes.
These are clear-cut cases where the pharmacy filling the prescription makes a mistake. In each instance, the pharmacist must ensure the correct medication and dosage.
How to avoid medication errors
For medications that come in pill form, often the bottle should describe the shape and size of the pill and any markings on it. Similar descriptions would also be available for topical creams or liquids but be far less effective for lay-persons to use.
The fact is, if there is a mistake in your medication, you may not have any way to avoid it. Your reliance on your medical care professionals is total. That level of trust and reliance can leave you in a devastating spot when you suffer from a medication error.