Mistaken identity


Why is it important for pharmacy staff to ask for your birthdate, address, or other identification every time you pick up a filled prescription? It is a way to help make sure that medicines are handed to the right person.

We continue to receive reports about consumers accidentally receiving another person’s medicines. For example, when a consumer went to the pharmacy to pick up her filled prescription, she learned that her medicine had mistakenly been given to someone else with the same last name. This upset her because the other person now knew she took a medicine to treat depression, a fact she was reluctant to share. In another example, twins with different first names but the same last name, birthdates, and addresses were confused. When one of the twins was dropping off a prescription at the pharmacy, he was told that his “other” prescription was ready. The “other” prescription belonged to his twin brother.

Here’s what you can do: To make sure the filled prescriptions you pick-up from the pharmacy actually belongs to you:
• Always identify yourself using your full name, month and day of birth, and one other piece of information (e.g., home address).
• Before you accept a medicine from the pharmacy, open the bag and check the label on the medicine for your name. This can help detect and correct a possible error before you leave the pharmacy.
• If you are a twin or other multiple, let your healthcare providers know about the possible confusion with your siblings. Having a similar physical appearance, similar names, and the same birthdate, and possibly also sharing the same address, all increase the risk for a mix-up.

Created on January 17, 2020

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