Receiving a Prescription
There are more than 600 different prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that contain acetaminophen (Tylenol). The drug is often found in pain relievers, fever reducers, and sleep aids as well as cough, cold, and allergy medicines. These medicines are safe and effective when used as directed. However, severe liver damage can occur from taking too much acetaminophen (if you continue to take more than 3,000 to 4,000 mg per day). In most cases, this can happen if you take more than the prescribed or recommended dose of acetaminophen or if you take more than one product containing acetaminophen.
A woman reported an error to us after her child’s doctor sent a prescription to a community pharmacy for her 11-year-old daughter. The prescription was for the laxative Miralax powder (polyethylene glycol 3350). The woman was instructed to give her daughter 3 TEAspoonfuls by mouth mixed with 6 ounces of liquid. This was to be taken once a day for 30 days.
Good catch! A mother picking up a prescription for her son was supposed to receive methylphenidate for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Instead she was given a cardiac drug intended for another patient. The mother noticed the error because the pharmacist mentioned the medicine was for “chest pains.” It turned out that the two patients had the same name. Before leaving the pharmacy with your prescription, always make sure to verify your name and another identifier, such as your date of birth or address. It’s also important for pharmacists to provide drug information when you pick up your prescriptions. After all, that’s how this error was prevented.
Speed should not be a primary determinant when selecting a community pharmacy. But that's exactly what people seem to want most from their pharmacy – to get in and get out fast when they need a prescription filled.
A doctor prescribed Donnatal (hyoscyamine, atropine, scopolamine, and phenobarbital) for a man who was allergic to one of its ingredients, phenobarbital. Donnatal is used to relax the muscles in the bladder and intestines and to reduce stomach acid. The community pharmacy’s computer system issued a warning about the allergy, but the pharmacist missed seeing the message while entering the prescription into the computer. The doctor also overlooked the allergy even though it was documented in the patient’s chart. The error was discovered by the man while reading the pharmacy provided consumer medication information leaflet, which listed phenobarbital as one of the ingredients. The man did not take the Donnatal.
Our organization received a report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about a mix-up involving a vaginal ring. The mix-up involved two medications that can both be delivered by a vaginal ring. The medication prescribed was NuvaRing (etonogestrel/ethinyl estradiol) but the doctor actually intended to prescribe Estring (estradiol). Vaginal rings release medicine over an extended period of time by inserting a plastic ring shaped device into the vagina (see photo).
Several mix-ups between the medications INVEGA (paliperidone), which is used to treat schizophrenia, and INTUNIV (guanFACINE), used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been reported to us.
Medicines are costly. So it's no surprise that most people are thankful when they leave the doctor's office with a bagful of medicine samples. Of course, doctors don't have samples of every medicine.They only have samples of certain medicines that drug companies decide to offer, hoping to boost sales. But when your doctor wants you to try a new medicine, he may be able to give you a small supply of samples to take home. This way, he can make sure that you tolerate the medicine and that it's working as expected before you have to pay for a prescription.
Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) is becoming an increasingly popular way for doctors to prescribe medicines for their patients. This method involves using a special computer program. Using a handheld device or computer terminal, the doctor selects the medicine he wants to prescribe for the patient.
Sometimes health care consumers express concerns about the possibility of getting the wrong medication when they have a prescription filled at the pharmacy. Here's a tip that will vastly reduce that possibility: