Have you ever gone to the pharmacy to fill a prescription and been completely unable to read what the doctor wrote? (Both of us have perfect handwriting, of course!) But when you hand the mystery message over to the pharmacist, she says: "No problem. You can pick it up in an hour." How can she possibly know what the doctor ordered, you wonder?
Well, fortunately, most of the time, pharmacists get it right, but even when totally legible printed prescriptions are used, mistakes happen - 51 million a year out of 3 billion medications dispensed, says Pharmacy Times. And while that's a small percentage, it's a huge number. So when you get a prescription, ask the doctor or his staff member what it says, and then write the info down on a separate piece of paper so you can double-check what you know to be correct with what the pharmacist says. But don't stop there.
According to a new Canadian study, it seems that a lot of mistakes get made once the right med with the right dose comes home with you. Labels on medication bottles can be hard to read, so instead of taking one pill every four hours for three days, you may take three pills every four days or some other mix-up, and either fail to get the treatment you need or overdose yourself. Check that you can easily read and understand the label BEFORE you leave the pharmacy. If you can't, ask for a do-over with clearer, cleaner, bigger type.
© King Features Syndicate