Pharmacy Safety

1 decade 10 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, July 05 2007 Jul 5, 2007 Thursday, July 05, 2007 1:03:54 AM CDT July 05, 2007 in News

This week's Your Health with Angie Bailey shows how a family wants to make sure you know how to prevent an overdose from happening to someone you love.

Studies show there's a fast food mentality when it comes to prescriptions...'get it filled fast and get out because I'm in a hurry.'  Have you ever told your pharmacist you don't have any questions, only to get home and be unsure?  There are ways to improve your odds of actually getting what the doctor ordered.

Fulton resident Patricia Campbell knows all too well what can happen when a pharmacist makes a mistake."

She was prescribed four milliliters, but what was on the label was to give her four teaspoons," Campbell says. "That's actually a 500 milligram dose, that's an adult dose.

"She" is Campbell's five month old daughter.

"A five month old baby, even if a doctor made that mistake and prescribed that dose, a pharmacist should have caught it," Campbell says. "He admitted checking it three times. He said, 'Yea, I looked at the label three times, I just don't know how it slipped by.'"

Obviously, Campbell was shocked and angry. She knows anyone can make a mistake, but wonders why the safe guards the Wal-Mart pharmacy in Fulton had in place didn't work.

Other pharmacists are quick to point out how important talking to the patient or parent is. "That's where we really try to avoid any types of errors, talking to the patient before they get out of the store, " says John Keener, chief pharmacist of Dunavant's Drug.

"Asking the patient what it's for, talking to the patient about what it's for, and if we pick up on something at that point that isn't right, we know to go back a recheck that."

Campbell says that kind of communication didn't happen when her husband picked up their daughter's antibiotic.

When you're being prescribed a new drug, here's what should happen.

1) Have your doctor write down the name of the drug...Brand name and generic... What it's for, the dosage and how often to take it. This should be separate from the prescription slip itself.

2) Ask if there are any side-effects and what you should do if you have any.

3) When you get it filled, make sure the label matches what your doctor wrote down.

4) Ask if the new drug will react with any other medication, even over the counter, that you're taking. Triple checking orders and shelf labels for similar sounding drugs are helpful, but some of the mistakes made could be prevented if patients would take a little more time.

"Everybody is in a hurry," Keener says. "A lot of people will check the box and say they don't want counseling, but once you get to talking to them, you find out they have more questions then they thought."

Campbell knows she is lucky her baby girl is fine.

"She'd never had an antibiotic before, they ask you if you've had any allergies," Campbell says. "Had she had an allergy, it could have been extremely severe having four times the amount she was supposed to have."

And Campbell says saving a few dollars won't lure her to a the Wal-Mart pharmacy in Fulton again. From now on, she's sticking with a local pharmacy.

"My child's life is not worth a little bit of savings," she says.

While the pharmacist who made the mistake admitted to it, Wal-Mart's corporate office did not answer our request for an interview.  If anything can be learned from Campbell's story, it's to be your own advocate and take the time to know your pharmacist and what you're taking.

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