How to Protect Your Child from Medical Mistakes

Prescription Watch

Errors involving prescriptions are the most common type of medical mistake, and children are especially vulnerable. Here's what parents can do to avoid problems.

  • Make sure you can read what your doctor wrote on the prescription pad. If you can't, the pharmacist may not be able to, either. Check the legibility before leaving the doctor's office.
  • Repeat the dosage back to your doctor to make sure she wrote what she meant. Don't accept "as directed" for a written instruction, even if the doctor has told you how to administer it.
  • Request that your doctor provide written-not oral-instructions to the assistant who phones the order in to the pharmacy. Busy office staffers may forget exact instructions, and errors may result.
  • When you pick up your medicine at the drugstore, double-check that the drug is what your doctor prescribed. Many pharmaceutical names sound alike-for example, Zomic, an antimigraine drug, and Zoloft, an antidepressant. Talk to the pharmacist to be sure you've gotten the right drug.

Copyright © 2003 Richard Laliberte. Reprinted with permission from the February 2003 issue of Parents magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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