8 Tips for Preventing Prescription Errors for Migraine Patients

Prescription errors are all too common. In fact, there are an estimate 5 million prescription errors a year. There are so many places along the way between what your doctor prescribes and what the pharmacist fills where problems can arise. To protect yourself it is important to be aware of the ways you can help prevent dangerous prescription errors.

1. Talk to your doctor about what he/she plans to prescribe. In that conversation make sure you talk about the name of the drug, the dose and any other information you need to know about how to take the medication. Make sure you write all of this information down so you can refer back to it later.

2. Bring a current list of medications and supplements with you to your doctor's appointment and to the pharmacy when you go to get your prescription filled. This way there is more than one chance for professionals to check for dangerous interactions.

3. When you go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription, speak with the pharmacist about the medication. He/she will go over all the instructions and tell you what the drug is for, then give you a chance to ask any questions. If something the pharmacist tells you is different than what you'd discussed with the doctor, be sure to ask the pharmacist about that. Asking questions is the best way to protect yourself from mistakes.

4. When you are given your prepared prescription, check the information on the bag and the bottle to make sure everything seems correct. Make sure your name and date of birth are listed on the information sheet stapled to the outside of the bag and on the label affixed to the bottle. After all, there may be more than one person with your name who uses the same pharmacy. Make sure the name of the drug is what you expected it to be. Check to be sure the dose listed on the label is the same as what your doctor told you it would be. Finally, make sure the pills inside the bottle fit the physical description of the pills listed on the bottle's label.

5. Thousands of prescription medications have confusingly similar names. This makes it all the more important that you verify you received the drug you were supposed to get. Please don't assume any discrepancies are due to the substitution of a generic for a name brand medication. Check to be sure.

6. If anything is different than you expected it to be, ask the pharmacist. It may be something simple, such as a generic substitute for a name brand drug, but always check just to be sure.

7. If you have any concerns about the quality or safety of the medication once you get home, do not hesitate to contact the pharmacy. Unfortunately sometimes tainted drugs make it to market and the only way we find out is when something bad happens to a patient taking them. Double check everything is in order if your senses or intuition tell you something seems off about the medication.

8. Use one pharmacy so that staff has access to the list of all medications you are taking and can alert you if there are potential interactions your doctor did not notice.

Have any of you dealt with prescription errors? What advice can you offer from these experiences?

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