Top 10 Ways to Prevent Drug Name Mix-up’s


topten spot-smWith so many different medication names, it's possible for a mix-up to occur between two different drugs. This can occur because many medications share very similar letters. When spoken or written, these names can sound or look very similar. We call these medications, sound-alike or look-alike medications.

Here is the top ten ways you can prevent getting the wrong drug because of a look-alike or sound-alike error:

  1. Get your doctor to put the reason for the medication on the prescription itself. A pharmacist is less likely to misinterpret the medicine name when he/she knows why the medicine is being prescribed. Make sure the pharmacist knows the reason you are taking a medicine.
  2. If your prescription is being sent electronically, ask for a hard copy to take to the pharmacy. When you pick up your prescription, compare the original prescription with the medicine you have been given.
  3. Know why you are taking each medicine.
  4. Question nurses or pharmacists about medications that look or sound different than expected. Expect them to follow up any concerns to your complete satisfaction.
  5. Read the drug information leaflet that comes with your medicine since this may raise important questions you might have.
  6. Check out the list of look-alike drug names on our website 
  7. Always ask to speak with the pharmacist. Never sign away this right. Always open the bag and read container labels to confirm you have the right medication. This is the number one thing you can do to prevent errors. With refills, it's best to open the vials too before leaving the pharmacy, to confirm appearance of your pills
  8. If your medicine has brand name, confirm both the brand and generic name of your medicine
  9. When possible, use only one pharmacy. Make sure the pharmacy has a list of all the medicines you are taking. If you must use another pharmacy, make sure that pharmacy also has an updated list of the medicines you are taking so they can check for drug interactions. Make sure the pharmacist also knows about any herbal medications, nutritionals or OTC drugs you take.
  10. Use a pharmacy that takes advantage of pill description on their pharmacy label.


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Created on March 26, 2012