If you take any pharmaceutical medications, you’ll want to check out this new website for getting helpful (and sometimes lifesaving information) on the drugs prescribed by your physicians.
Have you been prescribed the wrong medication? Has one of the medications you have been taking for a long time suddenly changed in color, size, or shape? Both of these are questions we as pharmacists address on a daily basis.
Pharmacists are widely trusted professionals who are often called upon to answer diverse questions regarding a patient’s health. Patients often go to their local pharmacy to see if the pharmacist can answer their question before seeking their doctor due to the pharmacist’s ease of access, minimal wait time, and low cost for advice (mostly free).
Pharmacists are often called upon to:
● Review prescription orders for accuracy. Drug, Directions, Quantity, Refills
● Drug utilization review (DUR). Safety, Effectiveness, Drug Interactions
● Compounding medications (making a drug that doesn’t exist in the prescribed form)
● Counseling and advice on proper medication usage, dosage, side effects
● Over-the-counter drug recommendations
● Health monitoring and advice
● Educating physicians and other healthcare providers
● Medication Therapy Management (MTM). Normally, a one-on-one session with a pharmacist to thoroughly review all medications and often, in addition, education on your general health wellness.
This may seem like common knowledge so far, but what happens when there’s a mistake?
While mistakes are relatively rare in the pharmacy, they do occur. Some of the most publicized cases in recent memory include:
● A 2 year old patient, Emily, being treated for cancer who received a solution of 23% salt. The patient was supposed to receive a 1% solution of salt. Emily suffered an agonizing death. She screamed as the 23% solution of salt went into her body before going into a coma shortly thereafter. She was pronounced dead a few days later. “Emily’s Law” was passed in Ohio, January 7th 2009, regulating the certification of pharmacy technicians in hopes of preventing a re-occurrence from taking place.
● In another example, Beth was supposed to receive her normal monthly blood thinner, Coumadin 1mg. Instead, she received Coumadin 10mg. Unfortunately, Coumadin is a narrow therapeutic index drug (a small change in dose = large results). The patient suffered a major stoke which resulted in left side brain damage. She had to stop her chemotherapy medication and died of cancer 2 months later.
What can I do to help minimize the chance of taking the wrong medication or taking the medication the wrong way?
You may feel like you’re bothering the pharmacy, but it is absolutely vital that you understand how you are to take your medications and when to take them. The first mistake concerning the 23% solution of salt would have been hard to prevent from a patient’s perspective. However, the second mistake concerning the Coumadin 10mg may have been prevented if the patient or caretaker would have called the pharmacy to verify the change in color, shape, or identification numbers on the tablet.
Do you have a question for the pharmacist?
FreePharmacist.com was recently started by two pharmacists to answer patient questions on medications. They have provided links to drug identifying tools, a free medication email/text reminder, drug interaction tool, and also a wide range of prescription cost savings tools including drug coupons. The website has a drug pricing tool which gives you a general idea of how much the medication will cost and, more importantly, the price of similar drugs that may be cheaper. In addition, they offer a drug discount card which is accepted at over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide with an average savings of 52%. If you or anyone you know takes a lot of medications, if you have a general question regarding a prescription, or if you want to check for prices or coupons before filling your prescription, be sure to visit FreePharmacist.com.