Of all the reasons cited for medication and prescription errors, illegible prescriptions seem to be the most inexcusable. There is no reason that pharmacists should not take the time to contact doctors and confirm their intentions prior to filling a prescription if the doctor’s handwriting is not legible. Unfortunately, many pharmacists assume that they know what is written on the prescription and dispense the wrong medications despite the very best of intentions. New technology is now allowing both doctors and pharmacies to verify prescriptions in an effective and efficient manner so that there is no longer any need for guesswork.
Handwriting is a Major Factor in Pharmaceutical Errors
Doctors must write many prescriptions for their patients on a regular basis and may scribble their prescriptions in haste due to the limited amount of time they have to give each patient under their care. Whether it is the intended dosage or the intended medication itself, it is very easy for pharmacists to mistranslate illegible handwriting when filling a prescription and the easiest way to remedy this issue is to simply contact the doctor and obtain verbal confirmation of the prescription.
Just as doctors must write hundreds of prescriptions each day, pharmacists may need to fill hundreds of prescriptions in the same time frame— if not more. The temptation to simply proceed after making an educated guess is very strong and it makes the pharmacist and his or her employer liable if the patient is injured due to dosing or medication errors.
Technology Designed to Reduce the Chances of Error
There are multiple new systems and apps available for doctors and pharmacies to help ensure that prescriptions can be delivered in a legible manner. These technologies include apps that doctors can input prescriptions into which will automatically translate the information into multiple languages so that anyone can access the information and understand it. 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 scratch on a pad and hoping that pharmacists can translate the writing. More doctors are choosing to implement electronic prescription programs as a result, and patients experience greater convenience as a result. In many cases, prescriptions can be sent to the pharmacy and filled before the patient arrives.
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 depend 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 also suggests that the majority of medication errors are completely preventable.
The pharmacist is often the last line of defense for patients who are treating themselves at home and this is why it is extremely important that pharmacies never cut corners or make guesses when distributing patients’ medications. 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, questions need to be asked. Simply contacting the doctor who wrote the prescription and having a short conversation is often enough to prevent serious complications, injuries and death.
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 across the entire nation 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 that you have and help you determine whether it is in your interest to file a lawsuit against your pharmacy or doctor in order to recover the damages you are entitled to.