How Your Cell Phone Number and E-mail Address Can Help Keep You Safe


A patient was accidentally given another patient’s medications at a pharmacy. Later, when a pharmacist realized the mistake, he attempted to reach the patient by phone. However, the patient did not answer. The pharmacist kept trying but did not get through until later that evening. By that time, the patient had already taken another patient’s CELLCEPT (mycophenolate mofetil), a drug that lowers your immunity (it's used in transplant patients to prevent rejection), instead of her new prescription for ZESTRIL (lisinopril) to treat hypertension.

This event reminded us that, with all the communication technology available today, your health professionals and your hospital probably does not have a good way to contact you in an emergency. They do often keep a record of your home and work phone numbers and some patients may list their cell phone number as their home number because they do not have a landline, but rarely are you asked to specifically provide a cell phone number or email address.

It makes sense to offer this information up front so pharmacists can communicate better with patients in a timely manner to prevent situations like the one just described. Keep that in mind when you are asked to fill out forms and consider updating your contact information during your next visit. Also, don't forget to give them an emergency phone number for a trusted friend or family member they can contact in case they can't reach you at all.

Created on February 2, 2009

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