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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Pharmacists and other health care professionals are diligent about ensuring that patients receive the correct medication. However, they are human, and once in a while they make mistakes. The doctor may prescribe the wrong dose or the wrong medication. Pharmacy staff may misinterpret the prescription or the wrong medication may be dispensed. There are several checks and balances to minimize medication errors, but sometimes the checks and balances fail. Medication errors can cause serious consequences.

What should you, the prudent consumer do to protect yourself? You should make sure that you have the correct medication. Before the Internet age, pill identification was accomplished by calling a pharmacy or using pill identification books at the local library or bookstore. The Internet has made it possible for anyone to use pill identifiers (pill finder), such as the Pill Identifier, to ensure that they have the correct medication. You can identify drugs by imprint, color, shape, and brand or generic name. If you do not find a match, you should call your pharmacist. Some generic drugs are manufactured by several manufacturers, and pill identification databases may not have images of all the generic versions.

For pill identifiers to be valuable, you have to know the medication and strength you should have received. Therefore, start by understanding your condition and the medication and dose your doctor has prescribed for you. Using pill identifiers and knowing what medications your doctor has prescribed will prevent you from taking the wrong medication. Pharmacists and their pharmacy coupons are no longer the last line of defense against medication errors; consumers are.

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