The Nose Knows...Smell Can Be a Clue to Error


If your child is taking a liquid antibiotic, notice how it smells. Chances are, the pharmacist had to add water to the medicine to make it liquid right before you picked up the prescription. On occasion, pharmacists have made mistakes when preparing these medicines.

In one case, a pharmacist mixed several antibiotics with formalin, a strong preservative used in operating rooms to keep specimens fresh. The formalin bottle had been accidentally labeled as water. The mistake was discovered after a parent reported that the antibiotic smelled strange. Mistakes like this are rare, but call your pharmacist if your liquid medicine smells unusual.

Created on January 1, 2004

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