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How Pharmacy Labeling Errors Harm Children

David W. Hodges
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When infants, toddlers, and children of all ages get sick or suffer from a serious illness, they rely on pharmacists to fill their medications. Unfortunately, many children have been harmed by wrong medications due to pharmacy labeling mistakes. There are many ways in which a prescription pill bottle could be mislabeled such as:

  • Correct label is affixed to a pill bottle, but the wrong medication is inside
  • Label contains wrong instructions for the correct medication
  • Label has inadequate warnings or erroneous warnings

When mislabeling or misfiling takes place, children often suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, labeling errors are a constant source of adverse drug events. According to a study by the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 58 percent of pharmacy errors at community pharmacies that used manual dispensing systems were attributed to labeling errors.

Because of this, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices has developed a set of guidelines for pharmacists to follow in order to reduce labeling mistakes that have led to patient injuries and even death. Some of the things pharmacists are supposed to do in order to reduce mislabeling prescriptions include:

  • Drug names should never be abbreviated on a label
  • Labels should not include the salt of the chemical when a generic drug is filled
  • Both the brand name and the generic name should be included on the label
  • In addition to the patient’s name, the label should include the patient’s current address or date of birth as a second identifier
  • Label should have a written description of the medication and a picture, if possible

While pharmacies should follow these labeling guidelines to improve patient safety, some pharmacies do not require all of the above listed items on a prescription label. Because of this, parents of children should get their medication filled at a pharmacy that does follow these guidelines. Additionally, parents should create their own checklist to make sure their children are getting the correct medication. Some things parents can do to keep their children safe include:

  • Understand what drug name the doctor is prescribing to your child
  • Read the label when picking up your child’s prescription to confirm it is the drug the doctor prescribed
  • Verify your child’s name is on the label
  • Ask for a consultation with the pharmacist to understand how your child should properly take the medication

Although these tips should help reduce your child’s chances of suffering the effects of receiving the wrong prescription, medication errors, unfortunately, will continue to occur. If a labeling mistake caused your child to suffer injuries, please call Kennedy Hodges, L.L.P. at 888-526-7616 to discuss your legal options in a free consultation. Also, fill out the form on our website to receive a FREE copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.