The prescription label on your medications, whether in bottle or package form, contains important information and instructions for use. If the print is unclear, or you don’t understand what you are reading, it can lead to medication errors that may result in a serious risk to your health.
Although your doctor makes out the prescription, it is the job of the pharmacist to ensure you receive the correct medication and that instructions are clear and concise. How your pharmacist describes required dosage will depend on the how and when neededforany particular medication.
If you are required to take one pill twice a day, for example, the pharmacist will likely print something like “Take one pill in the morning and one in the evening” on your prescription label. If the instructions on the prescription label are confusing, however, you may end up taking too much medication or not enough, to obtain the desired effect.
Clear and Concise Labels
To help ensure patients are taking the right dose at the right times, the pharmacist should use clear and concise language. A prescription label is easier to follow when your name, the drug name and instructions are in the largest lettering. It is also important that the pharmacist’s contact details are included and easy to identify, in case you need to call and clarify instructions.
Guidelines recommend that numbers are kept rounded, so as to avoid overdose. For instance, “5.0” could be mistaken for “50,” which the patient may not question if the prescription is for a medication in liquid form. Ensuring that the numbers are simplified helps patients to more easily read the instructions and avoid any costly medication errors.
Clarify Your Understanding
If you have any doubts about your prescription medications, you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist right away. Mistakes do happen, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution if you are you are not clear on correct dosage. If you receive a regular prescription and the drug name on the label is different, clarify with your pharmacist that it is the same medication.
It also helps to choose a pharmacist who communicates in a way that is easy for you to understand. Some patients need to take medication every day, making the risk of error significantly higher. Dealing with a pharmacist who understands the importance of prescription labels is therefore always the best option.