Medical malpractice often involves surgical errors or a misdiagnosis of an illness. But there is another area of medicine that is also a common source of unintended and negative consequences, which South Carolina residents should be aware of. It happens in the place where the medicine itself is distributed: the pharmacy.
Human errors in the healthcare field can happen anywhere. Physicians and surgeons are under intense pressure to make the correct diagnosis in a timely manner, and to provide the right treatment.
Pharmacists, on the other hand, are not subject to the same immediate life-and-death consequences that a doctor can experience. Their source of stress can come from the sheer volume of work that they must do. Frequently, customers with prescriptions to fill are waiting in line. The pressure to serve them all as quickly as possible can lead to haste. Filling prescriptions at a brisk pace, for hours at a time, carries the risk of mental fatigue that can lead to a mistake.
A brief mental lapse can lead to a seemingly simple error, such as a switched medication or an incorrect dosage instruction. But depending on the medication, that simple error can have catastrophic consequences for the recipient.
That is why it can be critical that doctors prescribe the right medication and pharmacists are careful in filling the request. However, there are a few ways that you can minimize your risk of getting injured or sick as a result of a medication error.
- Check your prescription medication immediately when you receive it. If you are unsure that you have received the right medication, ask the pharmacist about it before you leave.
- Exercise your right to drug counseling. You have the right to be counseled on your medications before you sign off to receive them. Speaking with a pharmacist requires personal attention and could result in the discovery that a medication is wrong or has the potential for negative interactions.
- If you bring home what you think is a wrong medication, contact your pharmacy and let them know.
- If you or someone in your family has been adversely affected by a prescribed drug, don’t throw it away or give it back to the pharmacy — your lawyer may need it as evidence if you need to file a lawsuit against a doctor, hospital or pharmacist.
Source: US News and World Report, “How to Deal With Prescription Mistakes,” Lisa Esposito, July 3, 2014