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Pharmacy Mistakes: What You Can Do To Save Your Life

NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - The CBS 11 I-Team has been digging into the hundreds of mistakes made every year at your neighborhood pharmacies. We first told you about the potentially deadly errors in your prescriptions last month. Since then, several pharmacists have reached out to I-Team reporter Ginger Allen to explain why they believe so many mistakes are made and the one thing you can do to help them that could save your life.

Alice Bobo of Plano has been battling heart disease for more than a decade. She's been taking Enalpril for more than 11 years. So when she got her prescription this month, she was baffled. While looking at her prescription Bobo said, "On this one, it's saying it's blue. It's not. It's orange."

The bottle Bobo was holding said she should have a "round blue" tablet. The paperwork attached to it said the same thing. The actual pills were orange. Bobo said, "I was afraid to take this because the description is all together different."

Bobo had just watched our I-Team investigation last month. We reported that the Texas Board of Pharmacy receives more than 200 complaints a year about dispensing errors. We showed North Texas Pharmacies where pharmacists had been disciplined for causing serious medical problems in patients who unknowingly received the wrong medication or wrong dosage.

Bill Bradshaw is a pharmacist. He began in 1973 and says he's worked for almost all the major North Texas drug store chains. Bradshaw is one of several pharmacists who contacted me after our first investigation aired. He told us, "There have been many times I have come home from work after a busy day and I'll just lay in bed and pray that I did not make any mistakes that day... I have made mistakes. Any pharmacists that tells you they haven't made mistakes would be lying to you."

Bradshaw echoed the concerns of many of the pharmacists who reached out to us after our original story. They say they are making errors because they are overworked and understaffed, filling more prescriptions than ever. Plus they are juggling drive through windows, immunizations and impatient customers who have just left long doctors' visits.

According to Bradshaw, those sorts of situations make pharmacists more tense and can potentially lead to mistakes. "That would be my ultimate fear," he said. "I would make a mistake that would harm someone."

Pharmacists like Bradshaw want pharmacy chains to hire more help to lessen the load and stress. They are asking for your help. They want patients to look in the bottle and make sure they have been given the right drug.

As for Alice Bobo, turns her medication was the right drug, it was just from another manufacturer so it looked different. The State Board of Pharmacy tells the I-Team the bottle should have been labeled with the correct manufacturer and the difference in appearance should have been better explained to the customer.

Walgreens, which is where Bobo bought her prescription, sent the CBS 11 I-Team the following statement:

"It is important that our patients have the appropriate information they need in order to properly take their prescription medications. In this case, the patient received the correct medication, dosage and directions. However, due to inventory on-hand the prescription was partially filled over two dates. When the remaining quantity was filled, we had switched to a different supplier and the tablets looked different. We apologize for any miscommunication and encourage patients to check with our pharmacists or their health care professional whenever they have a question on their medications."

Officials with the Pharmacy Board said there have been discussions about limiting the number of hours pharmacists work or the number of prescriptions they write, but there is no current legislation pending.

(©2014 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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