Wrong medicine? New website can help

Many errors can be traced to badly written,

Many errors can be traced to badly written, illegible prescriptions. (Credit: iStock)

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If you're confused by all the similar-sounding names of drugs, you're not alone. Your doctor and pharmacist may also be confused, but it might be you who pays the consequences.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ismp.org), a not-for-profit organization focused on preventing medication errors, says many patients are victimized each year because they are given the wrong medicine or wrong dosage. Many errors can be traced to badly written, illegible prescriptions. In one recent example, a patient with chest pain was given a prescription for the anti-angina drug Lopressor. But the physician's handwriting was so poor, the drug dispensed was Lyrica, which treats muscle pain.

The ISMP offers a "Confused Drug Names" list, where it has collected hundreds of brand-name and generic medications that look or sound similar. To download the list, go to bit.ly/ismp-drugs.

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