Preventing Medication Mix-Ups at the Pharmacy

Several recent events have illustrated the importance of carefully reviewing prescriptions and medications at pharmacies. Errors in filling prescriptions, either by giving a person the wrong medication entirely or giving a person someone else’s medication, can have serious and even fatal consequences. Patients can take steps to protect themselves from pharmacy errors, and in the event of a medication mistake causing injury, they have remedies under the law.

cohdra_100_9294-10052011.jpgThis Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog has reported on the case of Mareena Silva, the Denver, Colorado woman who received the wrong medication at a Safeway pharmacy. Silva, who was six weeks pregnant at the time, tried to fill a prescription for antibiotics. Because of the similar-sounding name, the pharmacy gave her medication intended for Maria Silva. Instead of antibiotics, she received methotrexate, a cancer drug which can also be used in certain circumstances as an abortion drug. Silva realized the mistake only after she had taken one pill and began to feel nauseous. Doctors advised her to induce vomiting, and she received treatment at a nearby hospital. The outcome of this incident is still unknown, but could have serious consequences for the baby. The pharmacy formally apologized and offered to pay all medical expenses.

Another recent case occurred in St. Louis, Missouri, where a man, Ron Apenbrinck, has filed suit against Walgreens Pharmacy after he picked up a prescription with his name on the bag, but with another patient’s prescription bottle inside. Both the bag and bottle were correctly labeled, but the bottle was placed in the wrong bag. Instead of the painkiller hydrocodone, Apenbrinck allegedly received Amlodipine Besylate, a heart medication. He took the medication for several days until he collapsed in pain, suffering what he has described as a “mini stroke.” Apenbrinck now claims that he suffers from an irregular heartbeat and permanent damage to his nervous system, as well as his head, neck, and back. Walgreens issued a statement saying it called Apenbrinck to apologize, and that errors such as this are very rare.

Pharmacists owe a duty to customers to accurately and diligently review and fill all prescriptions. The Maryland Board of Pharmacists regulates the licensing of all pharmacists in the state, and it handles complaints and discipline for pharmacists who make errors in filling prescriptions. We previously reported on the duty of Maryland pharmacists to educate patients and prevent medication errors.

While the responsibility ultimately rests with the pharmacists, patients can take steps to protect themselves as well. Michael Cohen of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices has noted that giving someone else’s medication to a patient is one of the most common pharmacy errors. He offers several tips for patients to guard against medication errors:

– Provide at least two forms of identification to the pharmacy, such as both your full name and your address or date of birth.
– Confirm that the pharmacist compares the information provided by you to the information on the prescription bag.
– Before leaving the pharmacy, open all bags and review the labels on all bottles or vials to confirm that it has your name and the correct medication.

– If you have questions, talk to the pharmacists before you leave the pharmacy.

The Maryland pharmacy error attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC protect the rights of patients who have been injured due to medication errors. Contact the firm today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.

Web Resources:

How to prevent yourself from accidentally getting someone else’s prescription at the pharmacy, Michael Cohen, Philadelphia Inquirer, October 3, 2011

Don’t get the Wrong Person’s prescription medicine from your pharmacy
, ConsumerMedSafety.org, September 16, 2011
Institute for Safe Medication Practices home page

Maryland Board of Pharmacy
regulations page

More Blog Posts:

Reducing Medication Error Injury by Keeping Health Record Journals, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, August 30, 2011
FDA Warns of Confusion between Risperdal and Requip, Leading to Medication Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, June 27, 2011
Walgreens Pharmacy Misfill Causes Dosing Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, June 21, 2011

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