How to Use the Internet to Avoid Medication Mistakes

There are ways to avoid medication mistakes.Patients may avoid medication mistakes by communicating with their doctors and conducting research on common errors. Under the correct circumstances, the internet can be a useful tool for avoiding medication mistakes. For example, some medications have similar-sounding names that can increase the odds pharmacists or nurses make mistakes. There are online tools that can help with pill identification.

Keep in mind, that as we discuss using the internet, all information discovered should be discussed with your physician. Remember, all websites used should end in .gov, meaning the domains are owned by government agencies (such as the CDC, the FDA or the National Institutes of Health).

A Website That May Help Patients with Pill Identification

The National Institutes of Health maintains www.pillbox.nlm.nih.gov, a website that hosts a database of every medication sold in the United States. This website uses various search criteria to allow users to find medications based on imprint information (numbers and letters on the sides of pills), shape, color, size, drug name and label author.

If we use the prescription drug Bupropion (also known as Wellbutrin or Zyban), a medication used to treat ADHD, nicotine addiction and depression, we receive almost a dozen results. The results show photos of the medication. In addition, the results list the active ingredients, imprint information and label author.

Bupropion can be confused with Buspirone (also known as Buspar), a medication used to treat anxiety. Sure enough, typing “Buspirone” into the National Institute of Health’s website shows the two drugs have vastly different appearances.

It may be difficult for health care practitioners to confuse the two medications we have listed as examples, as both might use tall man lettering (writing part of a generic drug’s name in uppercase letters to prevent mix-ups). Still, it serves as a useful example for patients to avoid this type of mistake.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has previously requested that some drug manufacturers use tall man lettering for specific medications. While these online tools are helpful, they should always be used under the supervision of your physician.

The Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Shapiro Law Group can help patients who have been harmed by medication mistakes and medical wrongdoing.


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