Preventing a Medication Mix-Up

Last updated on June 15th, 2018 at 11:12 pm

With the number of prescriptions that are handwritten and dispensed by pharmacies across the country each year, it should be no surprise that errors can occur. Even with the most careful doctor writing legibly and pharmacists double checking dosages, when humans are involved no amount of carefulness is error proof.

LaRowe med signRecently my 10 month old daughter was given a prescription from the local pharmacy with an incorrect label, instructing us to give her 5 times the amount of medication that was prescribed by her doctor. The doctor had written the prescription for 3 cc (cubic centimeters) three times per day, but the label instructed us to give her 3 teaspoons three times per day. To make matters worse, the technician at the drive-up window reiterated the incorrect instructions to my husband and showed him how to draw up the medication using a 5 ml syringe.

Fortunately, when my husband came home from the pharmacy and told me the instructions he was given I immediately knew what he was telling me was wrong. I grabbed the bottle to prove to him that he had misheard the instructions, but to my surprise, the instructions he was giving me were written clearly on the label.

When it comes to medications, errors will happen. It’s your job as a parent or caregiver to be sure that the errors don’t make it in your front door. While it’s great to have confidence in doctors and pharmacies, confidence isn’t a substitute for being an educated parent or caregiver.

When it comes to kids and medication, always follow these three rules:

  • Listen to the instructions of the prescribing doctor and repeat back to the doctor the medication name and dosing instructions. If your doctor seems rushed or if you’re preoccupied with the kids, ask the doctor to slow down or to write the instructions out for you.
  • Look at the label. Be sure it’s yours and confirm that the label matches the instructions the prescribing doctor gave you. Always check your prescriptions before leaving the store.
  • Ask for clarification. Speak up if things don’t make sense and take advantage of the pharmacist consult that most pharmacies offer. Be sure to speak to the pharmacist, not the technician if you do have questions. If you are given a syringe to administer medication and the units on it don’t match the units on your label, ask for a different measuring tool or for the conversion.

About the Author

Michelle LaRowe is the 2004 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year and author of Nanny to the Rescue!, Nanny to the Rescue Again!, Working Mom's 411 and A Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists. Michelle is an INA Credentialed nanny and has worked as a nanny and parenting consultant for more than 15 years. Michelle resides in a seaside village of Cape Cod with her husband Jeff and daughter, Abigail. To learn more about Michelle visit www.michellelarowe.com

Comments

3 Responses to “Preventing a Medication Mix-Up”

  1. Oh my gosh, what a great post! Thank you for the info!

  2. It is really important information so spread the word!!
    Mistakes happen more than people think!

  3. I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

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