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Prescription Drug Checklist

The possibility for human error in prescriptions makes it extremely important to take several steps to prevent or respond to injury from prescription error.

Before taking medication:

1. Talk to your doctor about the medication he or she is prescribing, how often you’ll take it and in what dosage, and what benefits and side effects you can expect. When you receive the drug at the pharmacy, check the label to make sure it matches the information your doctor gave you.

2. Whenever you receive a prescription drug, open the bottle and examine the pills. Make sure they look the same as they have in the past. A different shape or color could be a sign that you’ve been given the wrong drug.

3. If it’s your first time receiving a particular drug and you’re not sure what it should look like, examine the imprint code on the pill, as well as the pill’s shape and color. The pill’s packaging may contain a picture of what the medication should look like. If it doesn’t, consult a pill identification book or a pill identification website to confirm that the pill you received matches the one prescribed to you.

If you’ve already taken the medication:

1. If you or someone you know is hospitalized, it is crucial that you save any drugs you were taking. This is especially important with elderly or sick persons who may be taking a number of different medications. Each one should be saved.

2. If you’ve been hospitalized and the doctors aren’t sure what’s making you sick, bring in each medication to show to the doctors. However, don’t use the medications while in the hospital. Ask the hospital to give you new bottles of the medications you’re taking.

3. If you get better while in the hospital and get worse when you go home, go back to the hospital with all of your medications so that the doctor can examine them.