Occasionally, things go wrong when prescriptions are being prepared at the pharmacy. For example, one person's medicine may be placed into a bag that is labeled with someone else's name. Or a label prepared for a prescription may be mistakenly placed on a bottle containing another person's medicine.
Another reason that a patient might receive a medication intended for another patient is often because the patient was not properly identified before the medication was given. For example, if the pharmacist identifies the patient only by name it can cause a mistake if there is another patient with the same or similar name is listed in their computer system or their prescription bag is also ready for pick-up. Also, patients who are confused or hard of hearing might answer "yes" even if they are called by the wrong name.
One of the most important things you need to do when picking up medicine from the pharmacy is to confirm that what you've been handed is actually for you.
This past week we heard from a woman who pinched her finger in a folding leg of a table and also dropped the table. Her finger was bleeding and the pain that was so bad that she decided to go to the hospital ER. It turned out that a dislocated finger needed to be adjusted and she also needed several stitches.
Before the patient left the ER she was handed a prescription for Tylenol with Codeine for the pain. She got the prescription filled at a nearby pharmacy and received a small bag with the pills inside, saw her name on the bag and signed for it. At home she took a few doses of the medication but had no relief from the pain. Inspecting the container more closely, she noticed that that it was labeled "lisinopril for blood pressure" and it also had someone else's name on it. She immediately notified the pharmacy. Guess what? The pharmacist admitted that another patient was given her Tylenol with Codeine. Fortunately neither patient was harmed by the drug error.
In another case, a mother picking up a prescription for her son was supposed to receive methylphenidate for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Instead she was given a heart medication intended for another patient. The mother noticed the error because the pharmacist mentioned the medicine was for "chest pains." It turned out that the two patients had the same name.
Most errors are noticed during the pharmacy checking process. However, if they are missed, mistakes like these could result in someone receiving a medicine that was intended for someone else, which obviously could cause harm.
You can help to make sure that the medicine you receive at the pharmacy is intended for you by remembering the following tips.
Following these simple steps can help to ensure that the prescription you pick up from the pharmacy is the right medicine, not someone else's.