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How can pharmacies mix up similarly named drugs?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2023 | Medical Malpractice |

Receiving the right prescription medicine is not only important to relieve your symptoms, but it might keep you from further illness or death. This is because if medication errors cause you to take the wrong drug, you could endanger your health and perhaps your life.

As Pharmacy Times explains, sometimes pharmacists fail to provide patients with the right medicine because they mistake one drug for another that has a similar name alphabetically.

Placement of drugs

Drugs with very similar names may end up on the same shelf in a pharmacy. As a result, a pharmacist may make a mistake by grabbing the wrong drug without studying the name carefully enough. Alphabetically similar medicines can also land next to each other on a picklist or a drop-down menu.

Problems with packaging

Pharmacies could also mix up drugs after they arrive at the location. The Pharmacy Times article describes a case where drug names on the packages, though using tall man lettering, featured all capital letters. This made it hard to discern one drug name from another.

Fortunately, the pharmacist technician was able to confirm the identity of the drugs before putting them into storage. Still, the potential for a mix-up in this situation can be high.

Avoiding drug errors

The different parties involved in prescribing medicine should take steps to avoid drug name confusion. A doctor may include a description of what the medicine is for along with the prescription. Pharmacies should scan a barcode when a drug arrives at the location. Medicine producers should make their drug lettering distinctive to reduce name similarities on packaging.

Given that medical providers can take steps to avoid mistakes, a doctor or pharmacist may end up liable for prescribing or dispensing the wrong medicine to a patient.

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