Receiving a Prescription

 

A woman on vacation in another state got sick and a doctor prescribed an antibiotic, Biaxin (clarithromycin). She went to a pharmacy near where she was visiting to fill the prescription. Twelve days later, after returning home and finishing the antibiotic, she received a call from her mail-order pharmacy company.

Patients need to be alert to the many risks associated with new prescriptions. Typically, during a visit to the physician or nurse practitioner, you may be handed a prescription to have filled at your local pharmacy. Make sure that you know the name of the medication prescribed and its' purpose before you leave the office.

It was double trouble for a patient when she and her doctor both made errors and it led to a 4-fold overdose of an antidepressant medication, CELEXA (citalopram Hydrobromide). The patient was starting this medication for the first time and after three days she began to experience severe anxiety, agitation, nausea, and severe fatigue. She called her doctor about her symptoms. The error was identified when they reviewed the medication together and realized what was causing the problem – a medication error.

Every time you fill your prescription at the pharmacy you should receive written information about the medication you are taking. This information is called Consumer Medication Information (CMI) and is written by drug information companies and provided by the pharmacies that use their services. Pharmacies sometimes modify this information to make it shorter and easier to read. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently approve or review CMI. Pharmacies typically provide CMI with every prescription that they fill.

A doctor prescribed doxepin (Sinequan) 50 mg daily for a young man with depression. This medicine is available in a 50 mg capsule. But the pharmacy where the man had the prescription filled carried only 10 mg and 100 mg capsules. The lower dose (10 mg) is normally used to treat patients with chronic itching. A higher dose (50 mg or more) is the usual dose to treat depression.

Depakote (divalproex sodium) ER is a medicine used to treat seizure disorders, migraine headaches, and certain mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. The "ER" part of the name stands for "extended release," meaning the contents of the medicine are released slowly, not all at once, after you take the medicine. So, Depakote ER should be taken just once a day.

A 67-year-old man went to an emergency department because he was dizzy and had blurred vision. The doctor found he also had low blood pressure and a fast heart rate. The doctor admitted him to the hospital and prescribed medicines to raise his blood pressure and lower his heart rate.

A pharmacy technician in a chain retail pharmacy issued the wrong medicines to a patient. The pharmacy uses a bin system for prescriptions awaiting pick-up and the technician accidentally selected the prescription in the bin next to the correct one. The first name of the two patients was exactly the same.

Fentanyl is a very powerful pain reliever. It is only supposed to be prescribed for people with long-term (chronic) pain who have already been taking high doses of prescription opioid (narcotic) pain medicine for at least a week. Serious harm or death has resulted when this drug was taken in high doses by people who have not been taking other prescription opioid pain medicine for 7 days or more.

A patient was accidentally given another patient’s medications at a pharmacy. Later, when a pharmacist realized the mistake, he attempted to reach the patient by phone. However, the patient did not answer. The pharmacist kept trying but did not get through until later that evening. By that time, the patient had already taken another patient’s CELLCEPT (mycophenolate mofetil), a drug that lowers your immunity (it's used in transplant patients to prevent rejection), instead of her new prescription for ZESTRIL (lisinopril) to treat hypertension.

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