Patients need to be alert to the many risks associated with
new prescriptions. Typically, during a visit to the physician
or nurse practitioner, you may be handed a prescription to
have filled at your local pharmacy. Make sure that you
know the name of the medication prescribed and its' purpose
before you leave the office.
Encourage the prescribing professional to write the reason
for the medication directly on the prescription. This is important
for two reasons. 1. Many drugs have names that look alike
or sound alike. 2. Some doctors may have handwriting that
is difficult to read leading to misinterpretation by your
pharmacist. Writing the reason for use on the prescription
will help the pharmacist avoid a dispensing error later at
the pharmacy. Some physicians may already be using prescription
blanks with diagnosis prompts or icons to ensure accuracy.
Some physicians have begun to prescribe medications using
a hand held computer. This new technology uses a radio- frequency
wireless connection to communicate directly to retail pharmacies,
or may print out a prescription right in the office. These
systems are useful in reducing medication errors that may
be caused by hard to read handwriting or misspelled medications.
They also alert physicians to proper dosage requirements,
potential interactions with other medications and circumstances
in which a particular drug may not be beneficial for you.
Select systems are also capable of identifying for the physician
specific medications that are acceptable within the coverage
of your health plan.
Whatever method is used to prescribe your new medication,
make sure that the physician is aware of all the drugs you
are currently taking (even over-the -counter or herbal products)
to avoid duplication or interaction with your current medications.
Institute for Safe Medication Practices