Pharmacist's and their Labels

Take home message:  If your doctors ever changes your dose of medication while you are at the office, please ask them to forward the new directions to your pharmacy so they will be prepared for you when you show up early to get your prescription.

"Sir, it is too early to refill your prescription.  It was just 2 weeks ago that I filled your prescription for a full month supply of medication."

"Yes, I know, but at my last visit, my doctor told me to double my dose….."

Pharmacists do much more than just put labels on prescription packages.  That said, we do put labels on prescriptions, and quite a few I might add; we take this part of our job very seriously.  These labels, as simple as the process may seem, are a tremendous wealth of information, and they better well be accurate!

We guard our labels.  Every piece of information on the label, from the patients name, physicians name, directions, medication name, description of medication and all of the other required documentation is verified by a pharmacist each and every time a prescription is dispensed.  This is not just a retail pharmacy deal; labels go on all of the medications in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, i.v. solutions and anywhere else a medication is prepared to be administered or dispensed to a patient.

An issue we run into regularly in retail pharmacy is someone needing to refill their prescription, when according to our records, they should still have at least two weeks of medication remaining.  At this point, part of what we do in the pharmacy is play detective.  We will engage the patient in a conversation and do our best to figure out what happened with the rest of the medication. 

Over the years I have come across many different scenarios explaining why a medication container has come up short; however, one situation that comes up over and over again is the one I described at the beginning of this discussion.  A patients' doctor has increased their dose and no one has notified the pharmacy.  According to our records, the directions on the label of the prescription are not the same as how the patient is now taking their medication. 

At this point, the filling of the prescription is put on hold until we can contact the prescribing physician and clarify the directions.  I understand the patient is here explaining to me what the doctor told them to do, however, I cannot change the prescription label without an order from the doctor.  If the doctor is not readily available, we will make sure the patient has enough medication to hold them over till tomorrow while we wait for the physician to follow-up with us.


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