Woman turns to I–Team 8 after apparent pharmacy mistake

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WISH) – A mistake apparently made at an Indianapolis pharmacy had I-Team 8 looking into pharmacy errors and how often they happen. An Indianapolis woman told I-Team 8 she was given ear drops for an eye infection.

“It hurt to blink, it hurt to wash my hair, it hurt to cry,” Bethany Hair said of the pain in her eye.

An eye doctor diagnosed Bethany Hair with a viral infection in her eye. But, she says the doctor gave her an apparent prescription for eye drops.

At Walgreens, the $200 prescription was pricey for the 23-year-old. So she says the pharmacist called her doctor to find a cheaper version. Hair says the pharmacist came back shortly after saying they found another prescription that will work. She was told the doctor approved it.

The directions on the pharmacy label put on the box said, “one drop in the right eye every two hours”. But the manufacturer’s box clearly stated for “the ear only.”

“She (the doctor) said with any drops in the eye where there’s an infection it could burn,” Hair told 24-Hour News 8.

The next day, the infection and pain got worse.

“I freaked out. I’m thinking I’m about to lose my vision because I’ve been poisoning my eye for 24 hours, faithfully, because I was following my doctor’s orders,” Hair recalled.

Two days later, Hair went to the ER where she was diagnosed with “chemical exposure to the eye.”

The error led I-Team 8 to ask “where did the error occur? Was it with the doctor who wrote it or the pharmacist who filled the prescription?”

I-Team 8 has confirmed pharmacies keep a hard copy of the written prescription, but because of health privacy regulations, we can’t actually see it.

The doctor’s office declined comment to I-Team 8.

Walgreens issued this statement on the incident:

Cases like this are rare and we take them very seriously. If a prescription error happens, our first concern is the patient’s well-being. We’re sorry this occurred and we apologized to the patient. We have a multi-step prescription filling process with numerous safety checks in each step to reduce the chance of human error. We encourage patients to check with our pharmacists or their health care professional whenever they have a question on their medications. We will investigate what happened and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.

Walgreens refused to release any numbers on how often errors occur.

The Attorney General’s office said complaints against license holders are confidential in Indiana. But the Pharmacy Association confirms there are over 51 million dispensing errors in the United States every year.

Amy Peak at Butler University’s school of pharmacy says as a pharmacist, she believes it’s the pharmacist’s responsibility to catch errors. Peak says you should talk to the pharmacist every time you have a new prescription filled to get more specific information concerning the medication. She says more medication errors can be caught in a couple minute conversation than you would expect.

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