Here you will find some helpful information about safety as it relates
to prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicine.
Prescription drug mistakes are a rising problem in America. Not only are there increasingly high
numbers of drugs exploding onto the market, but many of the drug names
are extremely similar. With so many new drugs that have virtually indistinguishable
names, pharmacists are making more and more mistakes when it comes to
filling patients’ prescriptions. The Food and Drug Administration
estimates that the process of prescribing the right patient, the right
drug, in the right dose may result in more than 7,000 deaths per year
in hospitals alone.
Patients can minimize the risk of prescription mistakes by staying alert.
When being prescribed a medication by your doctor, make sure you understand
what medication the doctor is prescribing. It is not enough to know that
she is prescribing you “pain medicine.” Have your doctor tell
you the name and prescribed dosage of the medicine because it is unlikely
that you will be able to read what is scribbled on the doctor’s
prescription pad. Knowing the name of the medicine is your first line
of defense against a pharmacist who mistakenly read Celebrex, an arthritis
drug, for Celexa, an antidepressant.
Upon picking up your prescription, read the label to ensure the medication
matches the name of the drug you were prescribed. Next, ensure that your
pharmacist has filled your medication in the correct dosage. Lastly, it
never hurts to count the pills contained in the bottle to make sure they
correspond with what you paid for. With the rising cost of “miracle
drugs,” pills can cost more than $3.00 per pill. Accidental shortages
of pills by your local pharmacy could be a costly mistake.
Before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines yourself or giving them
to a loved one, you must first read the product label. This is extremely
important. All package labels provide easy-to-read usage and safety information
as required by the FDA. If you have trouble understanding the instructions
or information on a label, then you should ask your doctor, pharmacist,
or other healthcare professional before taking the medicine.
The information you’ll find on the packaging is as follows:
- Active ingredient; amount of active ingredient per unit
- Therapeutic substance in product
- Uses; symptoms or diseases the product will treat or prevent
- Warnings; when not to use the product, conditions that may require advice
from a doctor before taking the product, possible interactions or side
effects, when to stop taking the product and when to contact a doctor,
if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, seek guidance from a health care
professional, keep product out of children’s reach
- Inactive ingredients; substances such as colors or flavors
- Purpose; examples include antihistamine, antacid, or cough suppressant
- Directions; dose amount for different ages, how to take, how much, how
often and how long, and when to contact a doctor if symptoms do not improve
- Other information; how to store the product properly, and required information
about certain ingredients (such as the amount of calcium, potassium, or
sodium the product contains)
- Expiration date; medicine should be discarded after this date
- Lot or batch code; information for the manufacturer to identify the product
- Name and address of manufacturer, packer, or distributor
- Net quantity of contents; how much medicine is in each package
- What to do if an overdose occurs
The manufacturers of OTC medicines do make changes to their products or
labeling, so be sure to check for such changes each time you buy the product.
They may add or change ingredients, dosage amounts or product warnings.
In most cases, they will alert you to such changes by placing a special
“flag” or “banner” on the front of the package.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a defective drug or other prescription
drug mistake, please contact a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice lawyer
with our firm to answer any of your questions.
Initial consultations are free.