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If the medical provider gives you a written prescription, read it. Make sure it matches what he or she just told you. Unfortunately, many prescriptions use short-cut abbreviations in Latin. For instance, QID means “four times per day” and PRN means “as needed”. You may need to look up these meanings on the Internet or ask your medical provider before they take off to the next room. If the medical provider sends the prescription electronically to the pharmacy, you may need to address those questions later with the pharmacist.

As the patient, you have a personal responsibility to look up the medication you are taking and familiarize yourself with the usual dosages and usual side-effects.  Know what you are taking!

Double-Checking your Pharmacist

When picking up your prescription, read the label carefully and make sure the medication prescribed by your medical provider matches the medications in the prescription. Ask the pharmacist if there is any discrepancy.

  1. If your medical provider told you to take the medicine for ten days, make sure there are ten days worth of medications in the bottle.
  2. Some medications are available in pills, capsules, or liquids, so make sure the type that was prescribed is in a form you can take.
  3. The pharmacist should give you a print out of patient information about the drug that was prescribed to you. If not, ask for it.
  4. If you think there is any type of medication error, bring it up to the pharmacist immediately.
  5. Make sure your allergy information is correct in the pharmacy computer and make updates as needed.

Preventing medication errors is a team effort and the most important member of this team is YOU.

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