A 12 On Your Side Alert about making sure that prescription you're taking is the right one. New technology is making huge strides for doctors and patients, but sometimes, it can be as simple as asking questions.
In a special NBC 12 investigation, we introduced you to 6-year-old Hunter Croxford. A pharmacy mix-up sent him to the hospital after he overdosed on a powerful painkiller. His mom Emily was devastated. She said, "In my brain, the worst case scenario is that he would just go to sleep. I get there and he is vomiting all over the place and having seizures."
Hunter recovered, and is fine, but his story prompted us to ask — what steps should you take to make sure you get the right medicine?
We took our questions to Dr. Christopher Marshall, with Primary Health Group Appomattox. He said mistakes are not common, but they are dangerous.
"I would say the responsibility for making sure that you are on the right medication ultimately falls on the prescriber and the primary care physician," said Marshall.
But the patient also has a responsibility. Communication is key, ask lots of questions. Dr. Marshall advises when your first get your medicine, check that it has your correct information.
"Maybe somebody else has your prescription and it might not be just an isolated thing with you. There might have been a switch and somebody else might be at risk."
Another tip to make sure you are taking the right pill, go to a search engine like Google and type in "Pill Identifier." It will bring up a list of free sites that will help you identify the medicine you are taking.
The sites will allow you to enter the markings on the pill, the shape, and the color to ensure you have the right one.
Amy Whitaker Rudenko is a practicing Pharmacist and an Assistant Professor at the VCU School of Pharmacy. She said the experts work hard not to make mistakes, but sometimes accidents happen.
"Anytime you've got people involved in interpreting hand writing, interpreting directions, selecting product, there is the potential for error because we're human," said Rudenko.
Dr. Marshall's office has gone digital when it comes to writing prescriptions. He said it's safer, quicker and more convenient.
"Within a few years, having electronic medical records and having electronic prescriptions will be mandatory. There will be incentives for having the system and actually there will be penalties for not having the system," said Marshall.
Some other helpful tips: know the name of your medicine, keep a list of all medications, and follow the dosing directions. If you discover you're taking the wrong mediation, Dr. Marshall says stop and call your doctor.
For more helpful tips visit the links below.
20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors — link
6 Tips to Avoid Medication Mistakes — link
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