People who take or use prescription medications incorrectly may experience side effects, including serious injuries or health complications.

Contrary to what some people may believe, a medication error related to a prescription drug does not always originate with a pharmacist, pharmacy technician or other pharmacy staff member.

Prescription drug fraud

A pharmacist may receive a fraudulent prescription without knowing it. Fraud may be introduced by the prescribing provider or by the individual patient. Understanding some signs of fraudulent prescriptions may be important for any pharmacy professional.

As explained by the United States Department of Justice, a fraudulent prescription may contain visual clues indicating its lack of authenticity. These may include the lack of use of standard medical abbreviations, multiple ink colors or handwriting styles on a single prescription or clearly altered text on the prescription. Other red flags on a prescription involve atypical dosages or quantities as well as the presence of prescriptions for medications known to have opposing purposes and potential contraindications, such as a stimulant and a depressant. When one doctor or medical professional submits an unusually high volume of prescriptions for one medication, pharmacy staff may be on alert.

Errors at home

Some medication errors may happen once a patient is at home if they fail to follow the instructions properly or inadvertently confuse two medication containers. A person may accidentally take the wrong medication at the wrong time or forget they had previously taken a drug and then take it again. The problems that may result from situations like these may not be preventable by a pharmacist or other pharmacy team member.