Monday, September 13, 2010

A Tale of Two Pharmacies*

{ Photo credit }
* I don’t usually do this, which is why I am not naming the companies directly (I am providing links). I understand that any job that requires a human to do it has a chance for mistakes, humans are flawed creatures, we all make mistakes. I share this with you because it’s a very important lesson on being aware and trusting your mommy instincts. Never trust a person just because it’s there “job” and not yours. It doesn’t matter if it’s a doctor or pharmacist, if it doesn’t look, seem, or feel right to you, it’s your responsibility as a parent to to step up, question it, and make a fuss. This is part me making a  fuss and part me reminding you to always double check anything you give your child. 

As many of you know, my kids were sick last week, we thought is was allergies. On Wednesday Night/Thursday morning Peanut (3) spiked a temp and seemed in general to be having a harder time breathing. As an asthmatic myself and with her having croup as a baby we decided to take her to the doctor. Turns out she has asthma, probably just secondary to the virus she was fighting, and hopefully would be temporary. He prescribed nebulizer treatments for her and we went on our coughing, hacking, gasping way.

I dropped the kids at home and headed to my favorite place to get my prescription filled. I was tired, stressed, a bit hormonal after spending two nights up with my sick child. The pharmacist at this store is the nicest and kindest pharmacist I have ever meet. She reminds me a lot of old small pharmacy’s where the pharmacist knew you, your family, your doctor and looked out for you. She told me that they don’t carry the child dosing in the med I was prescribed; she could order it and have it in the morning or she could call another pharmacy for me. “Another location?” I asked assuming she meant one of her other stores. “No" she says "another pharmacy. there’s this one America Trust’s  down the street, I could call them”. Not kidding here, that act of kindness made me tear up. She called the Pharmacy America Trusts that was closer to my house and explained the situation. They assured her they had the prescription (after being put on hold several times). She then offered to fax them the paperwork because “this women has a sick infant at home could you at least look at the paperwork and start processing it so it will be ready when she gets there”, assuring them I would bring in the original.

No, they would not, or could not.

Sigh, I get it, rules, whatever. They claimed no wait so I headed over there. Apparently no wait means no one in store. It does however mean that everything will be repeatedly dropped to work the drive through. After standing around for 10 minutes the one tech working the counter (who was having register problems) called for help. Another tech came took care of the women in front of me and then left. I *may* have gotten a little testy at this point. Since there was a manger standing there I complained and asked if there was anyone there that could even take my prescription and start the process?

Almost 30 minutes later I left with my prescription and ran home to give it to my sick little girl. Seeing as how it was almost bedtime we quickly got everything set up to give her. That’s when my warning light first went off. These were huge boxes, and they looked just like my box. However the last time I took this particular med I was pregnant, so I put the nagging voice out of my head, and set her up to take it. However the med was making her agitated and cough a lot, my husband was worried, so we only gave her half.

The next morning I called my doctor. They gave the wrong prescription. What they gave me was an adult dose, not an acceptable substitute and not what he had TYPED (no handwriting issues here) on the prescription. He said it would be fine that she got it, it would make her jittery and anxious (check and check) but she was big enough it wouldn’t harm her. Phew.

I called the pharmacy, livid. I spoke to the manager who at first did not believe his staff would do such a thing. He immediately changed his tune when he looked it up. He staff had done that, they had given a three year old an adult dose. He was very apologetic. He refilled and corrected my prescription, refunded my money, and assured me that both the pharmacist that filled it and his staff would be spoken to. I have also filled a complaint with the company headquarters.

As a pharmacist in most national chain pharmacies these days, your job, essentially your only job, is to check accuracy. There are techs to enter it in the computer, techs to pull them (and in this case all they were doing is grabbing boxes), techs to prep them. The pharmacist job is to check dosage, check amount, check for interaction with other drugs. It was her job to see the dose and the birthday of the patient (2007) and question if it was right. Her job was to catch this mistake.

The question I have put to the company and to the manager is what if? What if this was anti seizure meds? What if this was an infant? What if this was a scared parent who doesn’t have asthma and wouldn’t know any better? A parent who had been up for days with a child who can’t breathe and just got a scary diagnosis? What would have happened then? Would they have taken responsibility for a child who was made worse? Or was hospitalized?

I had already avoided this pharmacy unless it was after hours (they are the closest 24hr one) because of a prescription mix up in 2007. I was pregnant and given the wrong dose of a medication. Again, I am the one that caught it. For me this was the last straw and I won’t be frequenting them again. I will be going somewhere where the staff is kind and attentive and they are looking out for my children.

This is not a call for a massive boycott, just a reminder. You are the protector of your children. Check, double check, then check again to make sure that what you are given is something they should be taking.


Charity said...

I agree - to check, check and double check. I am so sorry you had to go through that. Ironically enough, the pharmacy you had trouble with is the one I use for both of my daughters' heart meds and anti-seizure meds. I have never had a mix-up, and they even let me know when my dr. prescribed a more expensive antibiotic, to see if I wanted to ask the dr. for a different one since our insurance wouldn't cover it. I think the important thing is that you have a relationship with the pharmacy and you trust them. Hopefully you can stay with your preferred pharmacy and know you are in good hands!

Rose said...

Wow, thank you for sharing this, because I would be the mom who doesn't know, be freaking out and then be sick with guilt thinking I should have known better.

We have a neighborhood pharmacy too, I think I'll start using it if I need to go outside my dr's office.

Unknown said...

Sweet Jesus! I think I'm familiar with that drug, having 2 grandkids with allergies. When not given the correct dose they climb the walls! I always check and double check, I am that PITA customer and I'm glad I am. I'm curious to hear how your situation turns out. SO glad it wasn't worse.

Holly said...

SCARY INDEED!! Good instincts MOM!! AND SO GLAD you LET them HAVE it!

The pharmacy in question is also really good at price gouging. I used to use them a lot. I discovered that they were charging $15+ more than local competitors, too!!

Of course TAHT is not NEARLY as serious as putting lives in danger for inaccuracy! *sigh* ((HUGS))

Shell said...

Definitely scary and reminder to check and double check.

Hyacynth said...

I think you are so wise to point on that we are the moms, and we are the first line of defense when it comes to our children concerning medication. I shudder at the thought of what could happen. This is such an excellent reminder to check. I'm glad she's all right.

One Photo said...

I have a friend who was told by her Doctor that her son just had a virus and to take him back home to bed decided her Doctor was wrong and took him to the local ER. Had she not done so he would have died. Always trust your own instincts, always check any medication you are given. Professionals are good at what they do but not perfect and unfortunately when medical professionals make mistakes lives are at stake.

Unknown said...

What if? I drew in a sharp breathe while reading this post - scared the crap out of me! Thanks for posting this reminder to check and double check!!!

Surprised Mama said...

Oh wow! This post definitely served as a reminder for me. My little guy was sick the other week and his ped prescribed a good bit of medication for him and the one thing I made sure to do was check & recheck the prescription and what we were given! It is so scary to know that things like this could happen but I'm so happy to hear that your daughter is ok after this!

Liz {Learning To Juggle} said...

Oh my goodness how scary!! I am so glad that you caught it and got everything corrected!!

Gretchen said...

Oh dear Lord, this is exactly my worst fear. I fear that I'll actually be trying to do right by my child, but I will accidentally harm her/him in some way. I don't have asthma so I would have never known the difference. And I often am too trusting - I figure that the doctors and pharmacists know more than I do. Really really good food for thought. Thanks for sharing. It will forever make me think, and trust my instincts.

Stephanie said...

Oh my goodness - SO scary! My mom told me once, when my daughter was really sick in the NICU that it was my job, my responsibility to be the advocate for my child, to look out for what is best for her, and to do my research to keep her safe. This is just another confirmation that we NEED to be attentive as parents and check these things out. My mom has reminded me several times to trust my intuition as a mom, because I know my little ones best. Thanks for sharing this - it is such an important thing for all parents to be reminded of. And I'm so, SO glad your little one is ok because you were an attentive mommy.