Guest Post : Did Your Pharmacist Make a Deadly Mistake?

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Photo credit – Epsos via Flickr

Sometimes, people are overly paranoid about certain issues but not paranoid enough about others. One situation in which people should probably pay a bit more attention, especially with a chronic illness like lupus, is when picking up medications at the pharmacy. As a whole, we tend to trust our doctors and pharmacists, but it’s important to remember that any human being can make a mistake. Unfortunately, when a doctor or pharmacist makes a mistake, it could mean your life.

Disturbing Pharmaceutical Errors

If you pay attention to the news, you’ve probably seen plenty of stories about medication errors over the years. In 2012, a New Jersey CVS pharmacy made headlines after its pharmacists dispensed a powerful anti-cancer drug to a number of parents who were instead expecting fluoride pills to strengthen their children’s teeth. This mistake went unnoticed for months, but luckily the children had no lasting medical problems as a result of the mix up.

In another case, a pregnant woman who was prescribed an antibiotic was instead given methotrexate, a powerful cancer drug that has been known to induce abortions.

In perhaps an even more disturbing case, a pharmacist accidentally placed the wrong directions on a bottle of liquid heartburn medication that was intended for an infant child, resulting in the child’s dosage being at a much higher level than was safe. The child survived, but each day the parents were unknowingly giving him a dose of medication that dramatically increased his risk for seizures and strokes.

Three Simple Ways to Stay Safe

Although pharmacists bear the responsibility for giving the right medications and dosages, according to a medical malpractice lawyer New York firm and the FDA, consumers should still take precautions to safeguard their families.

1. Always write down all of your prescription information or keep a copy of the prescription itself. That way, when you give the pharmacist the original copy, you will still have all of the information about your medication. Ask your doctor to tell you the dosage, and then double-check with the pharmacist that the dosage you receive is correct. Even if it’s a medication you’ve been taking for a long time, check each and every time. It only takes one mistake to affect your life.

2. Look at the label and read all of the instructions carefully before taking your first dose. There are many different types of medications, some with names that are very similar to others, so you should always look to make sure that the name on the label exactly matches to the name on your original prescription. If you notice any differences, talk to the pharmacist. It’s possible that you were given an alternate or generic version of the same drug.

3. Have a look at your pills, and then look online to make sure that they match the pills you are supposed to be taking. Sometimes, a pharmacist may use the correct label but somehow grab the wrong type of pill, and the only way to check against this is to examine the pills physically. Make sure every pill in the bottle is the same pill also. If you suspect that anything might be different, go back and tell the pharmacist your concerns.

In a world of complex health conditions, medications, and dosages, it stands to reason that people are going to make mistakes once in a while. It’s great if you have a good relationship with your doctor and pharmacist, but always be sure to double-check their work. It only takes a second, but the health consequences of blind trust could last a lifetime.

Theda K. Rogers has a biology degree from the University of Michigan, and is the mother of a young child. She shares these tips in the hope that they may help you keep your family safe. She further suggests that the FDA, businesses like medical malpractice lawyer New York firms, and other reputable organizations are good places to research the possible effects of receiving the wrong medications and can give sound advice about what to do if this happens to your family.

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