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Medicine Mistakes At Your Pharmacy

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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - A 10-year-old suffered a narcotics "intoxication" after she was given methadone rather than methlyn to treat attention deficit disorder at a North Texas Brookshire pharmacy.

A six-month old began "vomiting" after getting a far too powerful dose of acid reflux medicine from a Walgreens in Mansfield.

And after visiting Lake Worth Pharmacy in Fort Worth, a customer was hospitalized for taking "fives times the amount of insulin" according to the state board order.

The I-Team has learned the Texas State Board of Pharmacy has disciplined 34 Texas pharmacists in the last nine months for complaints like these.

"If I had taken the diabetes medicine instead of my cholesterol medicine, bad things could have happened," says Bennett Cunningham.

When the I-Team first spoke to Cunningham, a former CBS 11 employee, a Dallas CVS pharmacy had given him blue, round pills used to treat diabetes, even though Cunningham's cholesterol medicine is tan and oval-shaped.

"I was a squeaky wheel." Cunningham had filed a complaint with the board.

"You have pharmacists dealing out drugs. If you're not careful, you get the wrong drug, you die."

The I-Team has now learned the state board disciplined the pharmacist in Cunningham's case earlier this year, ordering him to make change "to improve his practice," take continuing education courses, and pay a fine. The Board also fined the Dallas CVS pharmacy $500.

"It's nice the state did something." But Cunningham questions how long it all took.

"This took almost a year-and-a-half and the pharmacist was supposedly moved, probably to another pharmacy. He was probably still working. "CVS still had whatever system they had in place and could have been making more errors."

A spokesperson with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy tells us the disciplining process can take months. He says it takes time to investigate the cases. And, he says, the board only meets to discuss the cases four times a year.

State records show this errors are being made at some big name pharmacies around DFW. In the last few months, pharmacists at Tom Thumb, Kroger, Target, and Walgreens have also been disciplined for mistakes made with patients anywhere from 93-years-old to three-months old.

Cunningham says it won't happen to him again. "I've got two kids. I'm checking their medicine and my medicine. You know once bitten, twice shy."

Like Cunningham, the state records show many people got the wrong pill. One got the wrong bag. But for most customers, it was the wrong amount.

An 11-month old was rushed to urgent care after getting a prescription from a pharmacy in Haltom city. His parents gave him 3.75 milliliters of cough syrup rather than point .75 milliliters, three times a day.

CVS sent us the following statement responding to our story and Cunningham's case:

"As we informed your station when it reported on this same incident back in January 2014, the health and safety of our customers is our number one priority and we have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to ensure prescription safety. Prescription errors are a very rare occurrence, but if one does happen we fully investigate the incident to determine what happened in order to prevent it from occurring again. We are committed to ensuring that prescriptions are dispensed safely and accurately to our patients and the parties are in full compliance with the board of pharmacy's remedial plan."

A Walgreens spokesperson sent us the following statement:

"We take cases like these very seriously. In the event there is an error with a prescription, our first concern is for the patient's well-being. 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 provider if they have a question or concern about their medications."

The I-Team also spoke to the owner of Lake Worth Pharmacy where a patient reported a problem with the amount the insulin he received. The owner says the patient later accepted responsibility for confusion in the case involving his pharmacist.

So how can you keep your family safe?

1. Make sure you have a consultation with your pharmacists before you leave the pharmacy. Ask the pharmacists to look at the drug and the dosage before you walk out.
2. All prescriptions have inserts which describe the medication. Make sure you look at that information. Compare the shape, size, markings, and color of the medicine before you take it.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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