Last week James came down with croup. The Fall allergy season is in full swing here. I knew he was getting sick. Then Wednesday morning he woke up with that telling cough. After a pretty bad scare with Cady when she was three, this momma does not play around with croup.
I took the day off and took him to the doctor. The doctor prescribed steroids to help open up his airway, which is what I had anticipated. Unfortunately, our pediatrician has notoriously bad handwriting. You know those jokes about doctor’s handwriting? They must have been written about him.
The pharmacy had to call in with a question about the prescription (normally I get the nurse to write it on the back or I ask the dosage before leaving). It was going to take awhile so we left. I was in the middle of preparing dinner when they called to tell me it was ready. David was working late so I called my mom to go pick it up for me. Moms are awesome like that.
When she brought it in, I pulled the prescription out of the bag to check it. I knew immediately it was not the right thing. It was pills. Our doctor never prescribes pills for the kids without asking me first. Plus, both kids have had this medicine before, and I knew it was supposed to be liquid.
I looked at the bottle and the pharmacy had given me a prescription for Ambien. For a different James Williams. An adult James Williams. I was furious. I asked mom what happened. Every time I pick up a prescription they always verify the birthday and/or address. She said that the person that helped her did not ask any of that. Apparently, the pharmacy personnel were busy trying to wrap up for the day when she arrived. A supervisor (or manager or someone in charge) saw my mom waiting and stepped into the pharmacy to wait on her.
Being that this is not the pharmacy my mom uses she wasn’t aware of their procedures, and she never even thought about it being a prescription for a different person. Truthfully? After the end of a long work day, I would not have thought to check it while standing there either.
I called the pharmacy and told them what happened. They agreed to stay late for us so that we could pick up the correct prescription, which he needed before he went to bed, and take back the incorrect one. My mom said the pharmacist was very apologetic and asked what happened.
What happened was a breakdown in their standard operating procedures. Which could have resulted in my son taking something that was absolutely, 100% not for him. Which could have made him very ill. Or worse.
A very bad thing did not happen because I am vigilant. I am vigilant because a similar incident happened when Cady was a baby. The doctor gave her a prescription she had had before. The pharmacy wrote the dosage as 1 teaspoon, but I knew the dosage was 1 milliliter. If I had given her the dosage on the bottle it would have been five times the required amount.
That pharmacy was not apologetic when I called. That pharmacy did not try to get to the bottom of what happened. That pharmacy is no longer our pharmacy.
But the point of this cautionary tale is that even at a pharmacy you trust. Even if they recognize you on sight. Even if it is where you have been going your entire life. Bad things can happen. Scary things. Dangerous things.
Always, always, ALWAYS check your prescriptions before taking them. Check the dosage AND make sure that you have been given the medication that is for you or your child.
This could have been a much worse story for me to share. Thankfully, because I’m vigilant, it isn’t.