When most people think of medication safety, they usually think about ensuring that their medications are stored out of reach from children and pets. While this is certainly true, there are other safety risks that many are not aware of.
I’ve been nursing for over 20 years and have seen numerous mistakes made by the pharmacy. Some of these mistakes include, but are not limited to are:
Wrong medication sent
Wrong dosage sent
Most nurses are able to pick up on these errors prior to giving the medication to the patient. Yet, what about the general public? What scares me is wondering how many pharmacy errors that nursing staff miss when giving out medications. Then there is one of my pet peeves with regards to medications. It’s when the pharmacy will send a substitute or generic medication that looks completely different than the regular medication without letting us know.
Some pharmacies will have a person’s medications in these bubble packs. Each bubble will have two or more medications in it. Now certainly this may be more convenient. However, we found that it was much harder to spot pharmacy errors when medications are packaged like this.
I remember going into my manager’s office to discuss medication errors made by the pharmacy and she showed me a stack of completed “Incident” forms regarding pharmacy errors. When the pharmacy was approached about these numerous errors the response we got was “these errors are within statistical norm.” In other words the amount of mistakes that are made while filling the numerous prescriptions by the pharmacy are within the normal range.
Now I’m sure that if I were making numerous medication mistakes and was reported to the Nursing Regulatory College (NRC) it would be highly unlikely that they would accept the excuse of “these errors are within statistical norm.” The NRC would likely place some kind of restriction on my license prohibiting me from giving out medications until I provide documentation indicating that I have completed a new course in pharmacology.
When searching the internet for “Pharmacy Mistakes” numerous sites came up. I am recommending that the public read some of these online articles.
Now I want to ensure people that not every prescription that is filled by a Pharmacist contains mistakes. What I am saying is that based on the number of mistakes that I and my former co-workers have seen, the potential of these mistakes occurring are real. Many Pharmacists will also indicate that they themselves have picked up on mistakes that were made by the prescribing health care provider and were able to get those mistakes corrected prior to fulfilling the prescription.
Many people may feel intimidated by their pharmacist, doctor, nurse or other health care professional. Yet, people need to be mindful that medication mistakes can potentially cause serious injury, or even death. Therefore, people need to be vigilant and never be afraid to ask questions. If needed, a second family member or friend should accompany the person to their appointments and when getting prescriptions filled.
Until next time, stay safe, healthy and strong.
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