One shockingly common form of medical malpractice is pharmacy error. These errors include mistakes in filling medication prescriptions, incorrect labeling of medications, and failures to properly advise patients on how to properly use their medications. Somewhere between 30 million and 50 million prescriptions are filled incorrectly each year. Approximately 15,000 people are killed each year by prescription medication. The results of pharmacy errors can be relatively minor or absolutely devastating, depending on the details of the mistake. Recently stories have been published regarding cases of pharmacy error on both coasts.
New York Pharmacy Error Causes Teenage Girl to Lose her Hair and Have Breathing Problems
NBC New York reported recently on the story of Allyson McGuire’s thirteen-year-old daughter Cheryl. Cheryl suffered from a swollen muscle. She went to a doctor who gave her a prescription, and then to the pharmacy at a local Wal-Mart. The pharmacist told Allyson that she should give her daughter four of the pills twice a day. So, she did. Soon Cheryl’s hair began to fall out in large clumps. Then she started to have problems breathing and she had to go to the hospital. The dose the pharmacist had told Allyson to give Cheryl was substantially higher than the proper dosage. Wal-Mart admitted that the pharmacist made a mistake and says it will provide more training. Fortunately it appears Cheryl will not be permanently harmed, but in that she is fortunate.
Pharmacy Alleged to Have Given Woman the Wrong Medication Twice in One Year
Bakersfield Now reports that a man is alleging a Costco pharmacy in California gave his mother the wrong pills not once, but twice, in the same year. While the pharmacy gave his mother the correct drug, it gave her the wrong size of pill. This sort of error could have serious health consequences. Pills of a higher dosage than that prescribed can cause overdose. Pills that are not strong enough, however, could lead to a patient’s underlying medical condition not being treated. This itself could have dire consequences for the patient. It could also lead to a patient undergoing more invasive or risky treatments when the patient and his or her doctor are left believing the medication did not work for the patient.
In the case of the California mother, the first time she allegedly received pills that were larger than they should have been. Had she taken them she would have been taking twice the dose her doctor ordered. Then, only three months later when she had the prescription refilled the pharmacist gave her pills that were weaker than the ones she is prescribed. Fortunately the patient and her son caught both errors before the damage was done. Had they not been so careful and just trusted the pharmacy to get things right, there could have been serious consequences. This means that if your prescription does not look the way it normally does, you should ask questions. If you have a new prescription, you should double check the information included with it against what your doctor told you about the drug he or she was prescribing.
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