Medication Errors

I’ve suffered from chronic migraines for years now. Actually, since I was 16 to be exact. In order to try to manage this migraines I have to take several medications. Most of these are prescription medications, and of course all prescriptions come in very similar bottles. I never thought about this being an issue until one day two weeks ago…

That day I was home by myself with the baby because my husband was out of town on business. I had a really bad headache so I went to the cabinet to get some Imitrex. What I didn’t realize was that had accidentally grabbed the bottle of Klonopin (my anti anxiety medication) instead. The pills look almost identical and are in almost identical bottles. I was so busy with taking care of the baby that I hadn’t even realized what I had done until about an hour later.

An hour later or so I started feeling very dizzy and tired. It was then that I realized I may not have taken the right medication. I ran into the kitchen and checked the medicine cabinet and lo and behold the Imitrex bottle was still in the back but the Klonopin was in the front! It was then I realized I had taken the wrong medication.

This mixup was annoying but not life threatening. I ended up just sleeping off the medication while the baby was also napping (I had the monitor on high and we were NOT bed sharing). However, there are situations where a medical mixup could be dangerous, and even fatal.

Take a look at the picture above. Would you be able to tell the difference between these pills at a glance? The following medicines are pictured:

  • Sumitriptan
  • Tylenol
  • Ativan
  • Zithromax
  • Klonopin
  • Reglan
  • Dog medication

So could you identify these? I suspect most of you could not. Here is what the medications actually are:


This is even more concerning if there are children involved. You wouldn’t want to give a child and adult’s dose of a medication or accidentally give a child the wrong medication.


Although this isn’t a super-high tech way of alerting myself to which medication is which, I have found this simple (and cheap) way. I used colored dots and adhered the dots to the top of the bottle. I used green dots for my everyday medication, yellow for medications I take occasionally (such as the Imitrex), and the pink dots for medications I need to check and make sure is correct before I take them. You can even adhere the dots to the sides of the bottles so it makes it even more visible.

What are your ways to avoid medicine mix-ups?

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One Comment

  1. Gosh that is scary. I saw a picture that went around FB that showed how closely some medicines look to childrens candy. CRAZY scary.

    Thankfully I do not take any prescription meds, and all of my herbal meds look VERY different. Should that ever change – the stickers are a fantastic idea!

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