Throughout the United States, prescription errors happen a variety of ways, from lack of communication to poor handwriting. Increased medical costs and mortality rates are just two of the results. Prescribing Errors can be one or more of these mistakes:

  • Wrong medication
  • Wrong dose
  • Wrong length of treatment
  • Wrong administration method
  • Wrong frequency of administration

Communication Counts

If there is poor communication among members of a healthcare team already, similar medication names can make prescription errors more likely to happen. For example, Brilinta, a blood thinner, is similar in name to Brintellix, an anti-depressant. If pharmacists do not offer to counsel with the prescription, a chance is lost to catch the mistake.

Consequences Of Prescription Error

Prescription errors take a toll on the health affected patients. Adverse outcomes of prescription drug errors are:

  • Increased likelihood of falls
  • Worsening health conditions and deaths
  • Increased hospitalizations

Requirements for pharmacy employees to keep up a high dispensing volume, as well as the pace of emergency care, can encourage errors to happen. Factors such as lack of patient awareness, minimal health literacy and language barriers are factors that enable many of these errors to go undetected.

Pennsylvania’s Statistics

A medical study noted in the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Biotechnology Information indicates that prescription errors in Pennsylvania are on the rise. Prescription errors were the second most common adverse outcome in the state.  The study blames what it calls the “Swiss Cheese Effect,” where multiple safeguards are in place in the prescription and dispensing system, yet some errors pass “through the holes,” failing to get caught.

What You Can Do

  • Here are some things you can do to lessen the chance of becoming a victim of prescription error:
  • Take note of what you are being prescribed at the doctor’s office and ask what the medication does
  • Make sure to check the pill bottle when you receive it at the pharmacy, and ask questions if something does not seem right
  • Have a designated person to ask questions about your care if you are unable to do it yourself