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The American pharamceutical industry is a mutli-billion dollar industry. But, the United State is experiencing a shortage of qualifed phamarcists. At the same time physicians are writing an increasing number of prescriptions for their patients. The overworked and harried pharamacists at the drug stores are struggling to keep a timely pace with the flood of prescriptions. This situation creates a higher potential for mistakes like mis-filled prescriptions. The consequences can be a slight reaction, or a serious reaction, or even a fatality.

Often the mistake occurs because the time-pressured pharmacist mis-reads the dosage written by the prescribing physician, or fills the wrong generic brand of the prescribed medication. It can either result from poor handwriting, or faint writing on the written prescription. Consumers must be more attentive to the prescription written by their doctor. Consumers can no longer afford to blindly trust the pharamacy to catch or avoid the error.

When a patient receives a prescription from their doctor, they should read it with the doctor present, and clarify any questions on the prescription such as the exact dosage, or acceptable generic alternatives. If the patient cannot read the doctor’s handwriting, they should ask the doctor to re-write it, or to clarify exactly what is to be filled. If the patient cannot read the doctor’s handwriting, why should they assume a pharmacist can read it? Finally, patients need to know what they are allergic to, and if they are taking other medications, they need to ask the doctor or pharmacist whether the prescription will cause a problem with other medication they are taking. When it comes to prescriptions, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.

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