Pharmacy Malpractice – Can You Trust Your Pharmacy With Your Kids Prescriptions?

pills medication

How do you know the pills your Pharmacy just gave you for your child are the right ones?

With all of the lawsuits in our country, one of the ones you don’t hear often is regarding Pharmacy Malpractice when it comes to dispensing medications and pills for our children. This type of Pharmacy Malpractice is when either your local pharmacy or one of the chain pharmacies (i.e. CVS, Walmart, etc) distributes the incorrect pills to parents and then children become sickened or even die from taking pills not meant to treat their condition.

Pharmacy Malpractice

Just this past week in New Jersey, there was an investigation into a chain pharmacy (CVS) that distributed breast cancer treatment pills to children instead of the fluoride pills that they were supposed to receive. Here’s the story from the New York Daily News.

TRENTON, N.J. — The state attorney general’s office has begun a preliminary investigation into a CVS pharmacy’s mistaken distribution of pills for the treatment of breast cancer to children instead of the fluoride pills that were prescribed.

The attorney general’s consumer affairs division on Friday ordered a CVS pharmacy in Chatham to explain the mistake and provide the names of all its employees along with all emails, telephone calls, complaints, and other information related to the mix-up.

The pharmacy must provide the information by Wednesday and company representatives must appear before division officials for questioning under oath, an order signed by division Director Thomas R. Calcagni said.

Meanwhile, CVS Caremark said in a statement that it was “deeply sorry for the mistake that occurred” at its pharmacy in northeastern New Jersey, although the company did not explain how the mistake happened. There has been no report of injury.

Calcagni’s administrative order said the pharmacy acknowledged it improperly dispensed the breast cancer fighting drug Tamoxifen instead of chewable fluoride tablets to children in as many as 50 families between Dec. 1, 2011, and Feb. 20. Calcagni said in the order that the division wants to look into whether any laws were violated.

Source

Do you think this is an isolated incident?  See what happened here recently in Oklahoma and you’ll see that dispensing incorrect medication is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Pharmacy malpractice issues.

pharmacy malpractice

There is no indication yet as to whether the pills were dispensed by a licensed Pharmacist or a Pharmacy Technician, but in many cases throughout the country the Pharmacy Technicians are doing that job as well.  But, here’s the problem. For many states (New Jersey included) the requirements to become a Pharmacy Technician are so simple that anyone can get the job with just a simple registration fee and possession of a High School diploma or GED. Now, I’m not criticizing people with GED’s or saying they are incapable of doing a job as I fully believe you absolutely don’t need a college degree to be successful, but when it comes to dispensing medications that can affect our kids’ health, I’m a little disturbed that the requirements to become a Pharmacy Technician aren’t more stringent.

Many other states also have very ‘easy’ requirements to become Pharmacy Technicians. Permits and fees are normally very low with some being only $40, no degree is necessary, no extra schooling and the only teaching would come from on the job training received by the Pharmacist. Now, at the larger chains they normally recommend a Technician have at least National Certification which does have additional learning requirements but in other Pharmacies this is simple not required.

What does this all mean for our kids prescriptions?

It means that the medication being dispensed could be coming from a very untrained person and that scares me as a parent. Since I totally 100% rely on my pharmacy to give me the medication my child’s Pediatrician prescribes, it troubles me that someone with very little training may end up giving my child very harmful pills (much like what happened in New Jersey) that could hurt my child’s health or God forbid something worse. And how do you know what the pills are supposed to look like anyway? They’re all usually little white pills and all look the same so it’s impossible for parents to know whether the pills are the correct ones or not.

This is why every state needs to adopt laws to change the requirements of those that dispense pills to our children, whether that be a Pharmacist or a Pharmacy Technician. I think extensive training requirements and ongoing certification and re-certification needs to be mandatory in every state to avoid the issues like what occurred in New Jersey this past week.

So How Can You Avoid Pharmacy Malpractice Issues?

So what do parents do going forward? I would say the only thing you can do is if you feel comfortable with your existing Pharmacist then continue to use them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and tell your Pharmacist about your concerns. If you want to know more about their credentials as a Pharmacist, simply ask and let them know you’re simply concerned about your child’s health and want to make sure the right medications are being dispensed. Getting to know your Pharmacy and the people that work there helps build the trust so don’t be afraid to ask questions, ever. The bottom line is it really is a TRUST game when it comes to medications. You have to trust your pediatrician is prescribing the correct medications and you have to trust the Pharmacy is giving you those exact pills being prescribed.

But, more than anything, trust your instincts when it comes to your child’s health. It’s probably the best thing you have going as a parent.

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