Pharmacy Errors – Medication Prescription Labeling Errors

Rx drug label erros can lead to serious injuries and death.Improper labeling is one of the main causes of medication errors in the United States, accounting for one third of all pharmacy mistakes.

Properly labeling medication bottles with the correct instructions is an important part of the prescription medication dispensing process. Improper labeling is one of the main causes of medication errors in the United States. Incorrectly labeling medication accounts for nearly one third of all pharmacy mistakes.

Proper Labeling Requirements

The label on a prescription drug or medication should always contain a description of the pills (or other medication) inside the bottle, instructions on when and how much of the medication to take, and list any potential adverse interactions the medication may have when combined with other medications.  Any special instructions provided by the prescribing physician, as well as any standard information provided by the drug company about special warnings and considerations should also be included.

Pharmacy negligence resulting in mislabeled prescription bottles can result in devastating consequences. Medication labeling errors are preventable and a company that subjects anyone to a medication injury must be held accountable. Holding these companies accountable for their negligence is one of the major reasons for the improvements in the pharmacy industry’s quality control systems over the last decade.


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Incorrect Labels on Medication Bottles

While incorrectly labeling a medication bottle might not sound serious it can result in potentially fatal consequences.  For example, some medications can be lethal to people with certain medical conditions, or who take other medications, or even supplements.  Taking too much or too little of a medication can have a devastating impact on health, and could even alter the outcome of treatment for many types of illnesses and diseases.

Filling prescriptions is not as simple as putting pills in a bottle and handing them to a customer or patient.  Pharmacists perform many duties that require an advanced understanding of how drugs interact with each other, and may even offer limited medical advice.  That is why pharmacists need an advanced degree and license in order to dispense medications.  Still, pharmacies, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians commit labeling errors on a daily basis for a variety of preventable reasons.

Filling prescriptions is not as simple as putting pills in a bottle and handing them to a customer or patient.

Monster.com offers the following job description for pharmacists:  “Prepares medications by reviewing and interpreting physician orders; detecting therapeutic incompatibilities. Dispenses medications by compounding, packaging, and labeling pharmaceuticals. Controls medications by monitoring drug therapies; advising interventions.” 

The U.S. Department of Labor summarizes the position of pharmacist  this way:  “Pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. They also may conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, oversee the medications given to patients, and provide advice on healthy lifestyles.”

With the special training required and multiple job responsibilities of pharmacists, it is easy to see how mistakes can be made when a pharmacy is understaffed, or a pharmacist is not properly trained or qualified to perform the job.

Mislabeled Prescriptions

Prescription mislabeling can result in overdoses, poisoning and death. The pill container’s label is one of the only forms of written documentation a patient is provided regarding the dosage and use instructions. A patient is going to look to the label on the bottle when determining when to take the medication and how much of the medication to take. A medication overdose could result in the following situations:

  • Mislabeled bottle incorrectly instructs a patient to take 3 pills 3 times a day instead of correctly instructing the patient to take 1 pill 3 times a day which leads to overdose.
  • Mislabeled bottle incorrectly instructs a patient to take 1 pill 3 times a day instead of correctly instructing the patient to take 3 pills 3 times a day. This is underdosing. The patient is being deprived of the therapeutic benefit of the medication because he or she is receiving two-thirds less then the recommended daily dose.
  • A pharmacy dispenses a topical ointment to treat a rash and the pharmacy mislabels the medication instructions by directing the patient to take the medication orally or to be used in the eye as needed instead of applying to the skin.
  • Dosing instructions are mislabeled and instruct a mother to administer her child 2 teaspoons of medication daily instead of 2 milliliters daily.

Recommended Medication Safety Guidelines

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing medication errors. The ISMP publishes suggestions that seek to improve medication quality control systems. The following are a few of their recommendations:

  • The full name of the drug should be written on the label. Abbreviations should never be used.
  • When prescribing generic medication always add the brand name and generic name on the label.
  • All the patient’s information should be listed on the label (name, dob, address etc).
  • The label should have a thorough description of the medication including the size, shape, color and any writing that appears on the pills.

Medication errors can have an immediate, or long-term life-altering effect. It’s important to get emergency medical treatment immediately after discovering a medication error. After you have received medical attention you should contact an attorney that has experience working with prescription mislabeling error claims. Our attorneys are here to advocate for those that have been injured due to no fault of their own.  Contact our pharmacy negligence lawyers today for a free consultation.

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If you or a loved one experienced a medication injury or prescription overdose injury due to pharmacy error or negligence call our attorneys today to schedule a free consultation to find out if you are entitled to compensation. Our personal injury accident lawyers have years of experience bringing medical malpractice claims on behalf of clients that were injured due to no fault of their own.

It is important to keep all prescription bottles, pills, store receipts, and pharmacy paperwork following a medication injury. We will need this information to build a case against the pharmacy and get you fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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