Prescription drug abuse is a problem that affects all Americans at every age level. Statistics show that it’s the youth who are most likely to abuse these drugs without knowledge of what they are using, but painkillers can turn anyone into an addict if prescriptions are not handled very carefully.

If you’re working in a hospital, hospice care, or even in a pharmacy, making sure you’re giving out the right pill to the right person is an important step that saves lives. Having that extra layer of quality assurance can feel like a hassle, but the wrong medication can carry serious side effects.

Here are some of the precautions taken to ensure that the drug prescribed is the one the patient takes at the proper dosage.

Identify the Pills

Every pill has certain markings, up and including colors, that indicate what the pill is. Given the prevalence of patients ordering prescription medication online, anyone working directly with a patient (in-home care assistants, for example) needs to know exactly what that pill is.

Fortunately, you can use an online pill identifier to search for markings or code numbers stamped into the pill that gives you a better idea of what you’re looking at. Identifying the pill typically involves answering a few simple questions:

  • Size
  • Shape
  • Imprint
  • Color

Knowing these qualities, you can use almost any pill identifier online. Some even have the most common markings at hand, so you can quickly and easily identify the medication you’re looking at. Also, don’t forget to check expiration dates. This is especially true with over-the-counter medication, which has active ingredients that may not help symptoms if too much time has passed.

If you can’t identify a pill, dispose of it safely.

Speak with the Doctor

It’s common for someone in the pharmacy to have a hard time translating a prescription from what the doctor has written. Sometimes, handwriting is messy or information is obscured. If the patient loses the prescription along the way that can present other complications.

That’s why pharmacists, and anyone working with medicine, are encouraged to call the doctor directly. Many maintain pagers or direct lines strictly for this purpose. It’s better to be safe when it comes to filling a prescription.

Have Multiple Checks in Place

Another important way to be sure someone gets the right medicine is to have a system in place to check prescriptions. In a pharmacy, there may be someone who fills the prescription and another pharmacist who checks what has been filled at the register. This way, the customer can be sure she is getting the right dosage and the proper pill.

There may also be special instructions with the pill that the pharmacist has to go over. As a patient, it’s a good idea to take advantage of these free consultations. Ask about certain foods or behaviors to avoid while taking medication as well.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, abuse can occur whether a patient is under supervision or not. Fortunately, new technologies are enabling patients to take more control over the management of medications. This also applies to the elderly, who may be relying on caretakers or children to help manage life affairs.

If you are taking prescription medication, make sure you finish your prescription. Even if your condition improves. This is especially true with antibiotics, where a failure to finish your prescription may indirectly contribute to bacteria that is immune to medicines.

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