Friday, March 31, 2006

Prescription for disaster

I caught a cold or something two weeks ago. It flared up two weeks ago today, and I was sneezing and drippy the following weekend. It settled into my chest and stayed there for a week. Late Tuesday it started to sneak into my throat.

I took Thursday off and went to the doctor. He prescribed some meds for me. I took the prescription to CVS pharmacy, a big drug store not far from hour apartment. I waited in the store for the prescription. After I got tired of reading the magazines, I wandered back to the prescription area. A girl in a lab coat pointed to me and said, "I have your prescription." I paid for the prescription, went up front and paid for some other items, and then went to get something to eat.

It never occurred to me to look carefully at the prescription package. In my defence, I was still feeling kind of fevery. Also, I looked at the prescription label for dosage instructions, but they were on the package inside the box. This distracted me enough that I only gave the label a cursory glance.

I took the first two pills with breakfast. I took another later on with what little I had for lunch. After Logan's baseball practice, just as we were about to have supper, I pulled out the meds again. Alana was curious as to what I was prescribed. She looked at the package and thought it was odd that I was prescribed a steroid. I thought it was weird, too, but I didn't even realize it was a steroid until I read the little insert that came with the package.

Now, the doctor didn't say I had an infection. He said my throat was red. I figured I had an infection from the symptoms. The package I picked up from the pharmacy had a series of six pills for day 1, five for day 2, four for day 3, etc. Alana recognized this as a typical steroid sequence; I thought it was some kind of antibiotic. The part that worried me was the section that said steroids could actually increase the chance for an infection. Why did my doctor prescribe this?

I then looked at the label and realized that the pharmacy had given me someone else's prescription!

Again, it was partly my own fault. As confusing as those prescription labels can be, I should have double-checked to make sure that I had the right prescription.

On the other hand, the girl that gave it to me should have double-checked that I was the person on the label. When I get prescriptions filled at Brookshires or Target they always look at the label and say your name, and they always ask you if you've taken the medicine before. They will go over any side effects with you, too. I just realized that I don't think CVS has ever done that for me...

I recognized the cashier from other visits to CVS. She usually works at the minilab at the front. It struck me as odd that she was now wearing a lab coat and giving people prescriptions. I thought maybe she was taking pharmacology at the local university. I'm now thinking she's just hired help that they shunt around to different areas when it gets busy.

I took the prescription back and spoke to the manager. When I gave him the package he laughed and said, "We wondered where that had gone!" His jovial manner changed when he saw that I had taken some of the pills by accident. He said he would have to report it. They refunded me the co-pay on the wrong prescription and waived my actual co-pay. There's supposed to be a gift card for $10 with my name on it at the pharmacy, too, but I'm in no rush to return to CVS.

I'm probably okay. The steroid probably didn't have any bad effects, though you can never be certain I suppose. It would have been far worse if Alana had taken the stuff. Steroids can mess with your blood sugar; Alana is diabetic. The pharmacist got kind of nervous when he realized I had taken the prescription. They could have been facing a lawsuit. They could have killed someone, too, if the prescription had been different. Apparently some CVS official is supposed to phone me about the incident, but no one has bothered to yet. I'm more than half expecting the pharmacist to "forget" to report it.

I don't think I'll be using CVS as my pharmacy in the future.

Edit: for the record, the CVS pharmacy where this happened was the one on highway 165 north in Monroe, Louisiana... just keeping you informed.


Winter said...

Wow. That's scary.

Allan Goodall said...

Yeah, freaked me out a little bit.

For the record, still no phone call from CVS...

Robert Gottschalk said...

I guess you have never made a mistake, it must be wonderful to be that way, but, oh wait, you did too, how about reading the label, duh, take some of the responsibility for your actions instead of making a big deal out of it, I imagine if CVS had offered you a bunch of free items, all would have been mute. I use CVS all the time and if I do have a problem, the store personell take care of it right away. So, try Walgreens or some other one, until they make a mistake. I wonder what you are going to do when the last one makes a mistake, perhaps start over at CVS?

Allan Goodall said...

Well, Mr. Gottschalk...

1. I did read the name of the medicine. Not being a pharmacist, I don't know the names of antibiotics. My doctor didn't happen to say what he was prescribing exactly. It was my wife who pointed out that it was a steroid, not an antibiotic. It happened to be in a multi-day series that, to me, looked like an antibiotic. As soon as I realized it wasn't, I took it back.

2. I wasn't feeling well. I guess you didn't read the part where I said, "In my defence, I was still feeling kind of fevery." I admit I should have read the label in more detail. My mistake. But I wasn't feeling well. Perhaps making sure that someone who wasn't feeling well got the right medicine would have been a good thing?

3. You say, "I imagine if CVS had offered you a bunch of free items, all would have been mute." Did you miss the part where I got the prescription for free and they were to give me a $10 gift card, which I walked away from? Maybe the people you know would have gone back to CVS. Me, I'm not going back, regardless of what they offer.

4. It was just something that happened to me. So I put it on my blog. It was a blog entry, not a call to arms. Perhaps you might want to put what people write on their blogs into perspective.

5. Alana deals with seniors all the time that are less observant even than me! This kind of mistake with a senior could have been fatal, either from giving them the wrong medication or because they missed their proper meds.

Winter said...

Geez, I wish I could have this guy post on my blog.. I'm jealous..
Does he happen to work for CVS? Just curious..