Walgreens Offering Multilingual Prescription Directions

DEERFIELD, Ill. - Walgreen Co. announced today its pharmacy patients can now go to any of its stores and request their medicine label instructions to be printed in Spanish, Chinese, French, Polish, Portuguese, Russian or Vietnamese.

"It's important for patients to completely understand how they should take their medicine," said Dennis O'Dell, Walgreens vice president of health services. "Even if a physician can give instructions in a patient's native language, studies show that by the time the patient gets from the doctor's office to the pharmacy, many have forgotten half of the doctor's directions about their prescribed medication."

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, about 18 percent of the population speaks a language other than English at home, and 8 percent speak English less than "very well." Estimates of the cost from patients not taking their medicine properly range from $50 billion to $100 billion a year. An estimated 10 percent of all hospital admissions are linked to medication non-compliance.

"As a pharmacist, my first priority is to help patients," said Huong Le, pharmacy manager at Walgreens in Stanton, Calif. "Translating prescription directions into the languages our patients speak makes taking medicine safer for them," said Le, who speaks English, French, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Although not all Walgreens pharmacists are bilingual, this new service will enable patients to have instructions in their native language, whether the pharmacist speaks it or not. Prescription directions are entered into Walgreens pharmacy computer system in English and verified by a pharmacist before they are translated and printed.
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