Mixed-Up Meds

Lots of drugs have similar-sounding names. How you can tell you're getting the right one

Mistakes are a fact of life (and sometimes death) in any hospital, but one of the easiest to make, according to the report published last week by the Institute of Medicine (see story this week in MEDICINE), is to confuse one drug for another. Fortunately, this is a source of medical error that patients can do something about.

I speak from personal experience. As a college student in the 1980s, I spent a summer working as an intern in a hospital pharmacy. Whenever we received a prescription order, I would go to the stock shelves, find the right bottle and count...

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