Legally Reviewed by:

Jonathan Rosenfeld

August 1, 2016

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Hard to Read Prescriptions Lead to Pharmacy ErrorsOf all the reasons cited for medication and prescription errors, illegible prescriptions seem to be a poor excuse for pharmacy errors.

There is no reason that pharmacists should not take the time to contact doctors and confirm their intentions before filling a prescription if the doctor’s handwriting is not legible.

Unfortunately, many pharmacists assume they know what is written on the prescription and dispense the wrong medications despite the best intentions.

New technology now allows doctors and pharmacies to verify prescriptions effectively and efficiently, so guesswork is no longer needed.

Handwriting is a Major Factor in Pharmacy Errors

Doctors must write many prescriptions for their patients regularly and may scribble them in haste due to the limited time they have to give each patient under their care.

Whether it is the intended dosage or the medication itself, pharmacists often mistranslate illegible handwriting when filling a prescription, and the easiest way to remedy this issue is to contact the doctor and obtain verbal confirmation of the prescription.

Just as doctors must write hundreds of prescriptions daily, pharmacists may need to fill hundreds in the same time frame— if not more.

The temptation to proceed after making an educated guess is powerful. It makes the pharmacist and his or her employer liable if the patient is injured due to dosing or pharmacy errors.

Medication Errors Statistics

Medication errors are a concern in healthcare systems worldwide, posing risks to patient safety and well-being. According to recent statistics, these errors continue to have a significant impact.

3 Types of Prescription Errors: Drug Administration, Dispensing, and Pharmacy Errors

Medication errors in the United States are estimated to cause over one million injuries and tens of thousands of deaths annually. Mistakes can occur at various stages of the medication use process, including prescribing, dispensing, and administration.

Technology Designed to Reduce the Chances of a Pharmacy Error

Multiple new systems and apps are available for doctors and pharmacies to help ensure that prescriptions can be delivered legibly to avoid prescribing and pharmacy errors.

These technologies include apps that doctors can input prescriptions into, automatically translating the information into multiple languages so that anyone can access and understand the information.

In addition to eliminating illegible handwriting as a factor, these apps allow pharmacists to obtain lists of generic equivalents and alternatives which will help keep patient costs down so that they can afford their treatment.

Using computers to issue prescriptions makes much more sense now than to continue scribbling chicken scratches on a pad and hoping that pharmacists can translate the writing.

As a result, more doctors are choosing to implement electronic prescription programs, and patients experience greater convenience. In many cases, prescriptions can be filled at the pharmacy before the patient arrives, minimizing the potential for pharmacy errors.

The Prevalence and Danger of Medication Errors

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, medication errors have become one of the leading causes of injuries and death in the United States.

While most patients only suffer minor complications or side effects when given the wrong medications, others may suffer much more severe reactions.

The severity of injuries depends on the medications provided, the doses taken, and whether the patient is taking any other medicines that react adversely to the incorrectly filled prescription.

Data gathered over the last 20 years suggests that most medication errors are preventable.

The pharmacist is often the last line of defense for patients who are treating themselves at home, and this is why it is imperative that pharmacies never cut corners or make guesses when distributing patients’ medications that could lead to pharmacy errors.

Questions need to be asked if there is ever any doubt about the doctor’s intention or the possibility that the medication being prescribed may react negatively to other prescribed medications.

Learning how to prevent dispensing errors saves lives. Simply contacting the doctor who wrote the prescription and having a short conversation is often enough to prevent serious complications, injuries, and death.

A Poor Excuse for Pharmacy Errors

If you have been injured because you were provided the wrong medications by your pharmacy or your doctor’s prescription was illegible or poorly communicated to your pharmacy, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the cost of your medical treatment, out-of-pocket expenses, pain, and suffering, lost wages and more.

A qualified attorney can help you understand your rights and legal options so that you may make an educated decision on how best to proceed with your claim.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC provides award-winning legal services to clients nationwide and would be happy to discuss the details of your case with you for free.

Contact us today to speak with one of our attorneys, and we will explain the legal process, answer any questions you have and help you determine whether it is in your interest to file a lawsuit against your pharmacy or doctor to recover the damages you are entitled to.


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