What should patients look for when receiving a prescription medication?

  • Always accept the offer to speak to a pharmacist on each new prescription-(Pharmacists are required to provide counseling upon request by the patient and are required to make an offer to counsel on each new prescription)
  • Look at the label
    • Is this your medication?
    • Does your name appear on the label?
    • Is it the right medication?
  • Open the bottle
    • If it looks different ask the pharmacist why?
    • Be familiar with both brand and generic names of your medication
    • Know the size, shape and color of your medication
  • Be sure you know the purpose and dose of your medication and, how often you should be taking it and whether you should take it with or without food.
  • Ask if there are any side effects, or whether you should avoid any activities, foods or other medications (like supplements or over the counter remedies).
  • Ask what you should do if you miss a dose (often dangerous to double up). Pill reminders are often helpful.
  • Try to get all your medications at the same pharmacy to enable the pharmacist to cross-check your records for medication interactions.
  • Tell your pharmacist what other medications you are taking, including herbal remedies.

What should patients do if they think there has been an error in their medication?

  • Never take any medication if you suspect an error has been made;
  • Immediately contact the pharmacy and ask to speak to the pharmacist alerting them that you believe there may be an error with your medication;
  • After speaking with the pharmacist if you believe a mistake has taken place call your physician right away;

Please visit our Complaint Resolution page where you can download a Complaint Form or contact the Board of Pharmacy Complaint Department at 617-973-0800 for assistance in filing a complaint. The board of pharmacy usually requires patient's signature to authorize release of their pharmacy medication records.


This information is provided by the Division of Health Professions Licensure within the Department of Public Health.