How to avoid pharmacy mix-ups that can mean serious consequences for your health
How often do serious pharmacy errors happen? Actually, nobody knows. There is little data tracking the problem across Canada. So what do you need to know to stay safe? Here are four errors to watch out for that can have serious consequences for your health.
CBC News and Marketplace have been investigating pharmacy errors for several months in the largest hidden-camera test of its kind in Canada. Follow our continuing coverage at cbcnews.ca. Watch the complete investigation, Dispensing Danger, on Friday at 8 p.m. on CBC TV and online.
According to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) Canada, medication problems are often caused by a combination of factors. Here are some problems to watch out for:
~Illegible prescriptions from your doctor may be a cliché, but they are also a real danger.
Drugs that look alike
~There are several ways in which drugs can be almost identical and therefore easy to mix up. In some cases, packaging for different drugs can look similar, so a pharmacist can easily grab one drug thinking it’s another. In one case ISMP documented, it says the box and vials for an antihistamine called diphenhydramine hydrochloride looked nearly identical to those for blood pressure medication phenylephrine hydrochloride.
Drugs with similar names
~According to an ISMP bulletin, “the potential for error due to confusing drug names is very high.”
MacKinnon says, “If a physician’s calling a prescription over the phone, it can sound very similar to the pharmacist. Also, if they’re written with penmanship and handwriting, depending on the penmanship of the physician, it can look similar as well.”
~Getting the wrong dose can also be dangerous. “If it’s too low of a dose, their condition may not be treated properly. If it’s too high a dose, they might end up in the emergency department with adverse events,” says MacKinnon.
Read the article in it’s entirety @ cbc.ca/news/health
By Megan Griffith-Greene / Marketplace, CBC News Posted: Jan 22, 2015 http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/4-pharmacy-errors-that-can-harm-your-health-1.2926597