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Double Checking your Prescription: What to look for?

This post is a special one, as it is the first guest post written for My Diabetic Heart.  The post was written by fellow DOC member & D-blogger Casey Washington, host of the blog Pumping through Life.  Thanks Casey!

Mike asked me to provide some insight into what is required for a prescription to be filled and how you can help prescribers (IE physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists) and pharmacists.

I am a registered pharmacist in Ohio and Virginia. I have a Doctorate of Pharmacy and am a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist. I do not provide medical advice online. Please check with your health care team before making any changes to your health care management. My blog writings are strictly my perspective which includes living life as a person with Type 1 diabetes. You can check out my blog at http://pumpingthroughlife.blogspot.com

First, let me encourage you to get to know your pharmacist. Pharmacists are easily accessible health care practitioners. Pharmacies can be found almost everywhere and some are open 24 hours. You can call, walk in, or even drive through without an appointment. If you always go to the same pharmacy, the pharmacists can get to know you and may be better equipped to help you. The information the pharmacist knows is limited to what the prescribers write on the prescription pad and what you share with them.

To help prevent potential problems with your prescription, you may want to check your prescriptions for accuracy when they are handed to you. Each prescription must contain:

1.    Date written – including month, day, and year. Depending on what medication is prescribed, the expiration of the prescription can vary. Most prescriptions must be filled with in 6 months – 1 year of being written (there are exceptions, like controlled substances).

2.    Patient name – most pharmacies will ask for another identifier such as date of birth/phone number to help make sure the prescription is filled for the correct person.

3.    Name of the Medication (IE metformin)

4.    Strength of the medication (IE 500mg)

5.    Directions – including route (PO = by mouth), dose (2 tablets), and frequency (BID = twice daily).

6.    Quantity – often written as 30 or 90 days supply. If your insurance covers a 90 day supply, make sure to tell your physician.

7.    Refills – this can be left blank which means there are no refills. But if you aren’t seeing the physician/nurse practitioner for several months, make sure you have enough to get you through. Refills are usually valid for 1 year.

8.    Signature of clinician prescribing (Physician/nurse practitioner)

These requirements are in general. There are some regulations related to specific medications (controlled substances) as well as some state requirements. Check with your pharmacist for more information regarding your medications.

Just because the above criteria are met, doesn’t mean you won’t run into a problem. One of the required items could be written incorrectly requiring the pharmacist to call the physician office. Also, there could be interactions with the medication. It is important to go to the same pharmacy for all medications so the pharmacist can catch if any prescription medications (maybe from another doctor/urgent care/dentist) interact with other medications you take.

Another helpful action could be to have a list of formulary medications for your insurance. This way your physician can write the prescription for a cost effective medication. Usually this list is available online or you can request a printout from your insurance company.

I hope your next visit to the pharmacy is pain free.

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