We all take medications at one time or another. Our doctor prescribes a specific medication for a specific condition, and we count on the pharmacist to be accurate in filling that prescription. What happens when the pharmacist gives you the wrong dosage or the wrong medication? Unfortunately, mistakes like this happen every day. Damage may include short-term or long-term medical expenses, disabilities, pain and suffering, even death.
Fortunately, a 12-year-old boy was observant enough to realize a refill of his allergy medication looked different. He had taken the medication long enough to know that it was an oval shaped, white pill with four letters on it. His mother checked the label on the bottle before leaving the pharmacy and all information was accurate – the name of the drug, prescribed dosage, and a description of the drug. She didn’t consider opening the bottle. Rather than assume the same drug was from a different manufacturer, she called the pharmacy. The medication and the label were not a match. The medication was for high cholesterol. Although one dosage may not have caused any effects, had this child taken the medication for any length of time, it could have resulted in liver damage.
Unfortunately, the result of a pharmacy error was not the same for a 62-year-old woman who mistakenly received a large dose of the anti-seizure drug, Lamictal, instead of the prescription pain reliever, Lyrica. Two days after taking the wrong drug, the woman committed suicide. Her daughter believes it was the result of the medication; suicidal tendencies are a known risk of Lamictal. Was this mistake due to a telephone message that was not clearly understood, a typing or computer error, the illegible handwriting of the doctor, or pharmacy negligence?
Some reasons for pharmacy errors are the pressure on pharmacists to fill prescriptions within one hour. They are supposed to review each technicians work, but due to understaffing some may forget to double-check. Illegible doctor handwriting may lead to a pharmacist guessing and thereby filling the wrong drug. Many drugs look alike or sound alike, as the case with the Lamictal and Lyrica.
· Know the brand name and generic name of the drug and why you are taking it. Make sure they match.
· Keep a list of all drugs you take, whether prescription or over-the-counter. Be aware of any reactions to other drugs.
· Know the correct spelling of the drug you should be taking. Have your doctor spell it and write it down yourself, clearly and legibly.
· Know the appearance of the drug. It if looks different than it has in the past, that your doctor described, or doesn’t match the bottle. Do not take before talking with the pharmacist.
· Double-check the name of the drug and the dosage and read the manufacturer’s patient information sheet.
Medication errors are preventable. Most pharmacies now list a description of the medication on the bottles label or on the medication information sheet given with the prescription. It describes the shape, color, and other pertinent information. Nearly half of Americans do not check their prescriptions to make sure they are correct. This information is there for a reason, so use it. Taking a minute to avoid a medication error, can avoid life-long ramifications.
If you have been injured by a pharmaceutical error or pharmacy negligence, contact your doctor or hospital immediately. Early treatment can prevent side-effects, complications, or death.
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life funding is needed during litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.