What to do with a prescription bottle with the wrong pills inside

Have you ever opened a prescription bottle to find the wrong pills inside? If so, you may have found it to be an expensive mistake.

Whatever the reason for the error (and there are numerous possible causes), here is how to best handle the situation.

Of course, it is always smart to confirm the medications, quantities and dosages at the pharmacy checkout.  A mistake recognized at the time of purchase can be easily corrected.

It becomes more of a problem if you discover the error after you are home.  Due to concerns of tampering, pharmacies will not usually allow return of medications that have left the store, especially if the bag or bottle has been opened.

Once you notice the mistake, your pharmacist should be able to quickly make things right, but the payment side can be tricky.

  • If not covered under insurance, full payment for the corrected prescription may be necessary, even though you paid for the first.
  • Even if insurance covered some or all of the first prescription, you may be responsible for a second co-pay, or even full price of the replacement.

If you are faced with possible extra expense, first ask your pharmacist how best to handle it.  There may be an insurance protocol for this very situation, although the solution might not be immediate.  Some pharmacies might decide not to charge you for the corrected prescription, especially if they contributed to the error.

If the physician’s practice appears to be the culprit, don’t immediately call for the doctor or nurse–the office manager is the person to call.  Keep in mind that they will need to look into the situation to find out what actually occurred on their end.  If it truly was an error on their part, you can expect an apology and reimbursement for your extra costs.

Stephen Meyers is a family physician who blogs at The Med Savings Blog.


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