Nobody’s perfect, right? That’s not a bad thought — unless you’re talking about someone whose mistakes could literally mean life or death for another human being. Pharmacists have to exercise considerable care during their daily work because a single mistake can be devasting.
Unfortunately, pharmacists have so much reason to fear the consequences of a mistake that they may try to hide their errors — even when someone gets hurt. As a patient or the caretaker of a patient, it’s always wise to be on the watch for these common pharmacy errors:
- Mistaking a teaspoon for a tablespoon and inadvertantly tripling the dosage on a medication’s directions
- Under-dosing, or accidentally directing a patient to take too little of a certain drug — which can be just as dangerous for patients with certain conditions, like high blood pressure, as an overdose
- Dispensing a fast-acting drug instead of a slow-release drug, such as fast-acting insulin, which can cause dangerous and unexpected reactions in some people
- Dispensing a “like-name” drug instead of the intended prescription, such as giving a patient the painkiller codeine instead of the steroid lodine
- Dispensing a “look-alike” drug, which can happen with generics that tend to be all-white and easily confused for other all-white pills of the same general size and shape
- Calculation errors when a drug is compounded to a specific formula or has to be pre-mixed by the pharmacist before dispensing
- Excessive dosages, where the doctor prescribes too much but the pharmacist should have recognized the error
- Dispensing a medication to a patient with a known allergic reaction to some component in that drug
- Dispensing medication that, in combo with other medications the patient is using, turns lethal.
Pharmacy errors can be devastating to victims. If you or your loved one has suffered from a medication error, find out what legal options you can take.