Pet Meds Pharmacy Mistakes on the Rise. Naturally when your dog or cat is ill you seek out your veterinarian. When the vet prescribes medication many pet owners then head out to the pharmacy hoping their pet will once again begin feeling better. Unfortunately similar medication errors occur at many pharmacies both for people and pets. Pet owners may unknowingly receive the wrong medication or the right medication at the wrong dose.
The Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) started looking into these errors more closely in 2008 which led them to create the Veterinary Medication Error Program in 2010. Their purpose is to focus on ways to increase the safety of those pet medications.
So Why are these Medication Errors Made?
Pet prescriptions are often filled in the same pharmacies that fulfill human prescriptions and mistakes often begin with illegible hand writing and/or unclear abbreviations.
Veterinarians and medical doctors are taught to use various systems of veterinary and medical abbreviations in order to save time. Certain pharmacists may be more familiar with one system or another but not necessarily both. Poor penmanship causing illegible handwriting can also lead to transcription errors in the pharmacy.
After reviewing medication error reports, the Center for Veterinary Medicine determined that for example the abbreviation SID which means once a day was often misinterpreted as BID which means twice a day.
Depending on the exact medication and the severity of side effects this could result in a medication overdose and the pet would suffer the consequences as a result.
Transcription errors also result from misinterpreting other abbreviations such as mg which stands for milligrams versus mcg which stands for micrograms. In this case a 5mg dose with a trailing zero could be misread as 50 mg or a 0.5mg dose written without the leading zero can easily be misread as 5mg resulting in a 10 time overdose.
So What Can pet Owners Do to Avoid Medication Mishaps?
Before leaving your veterinarians office, be sure to ask questions, clarify everything and don’t be afraid to write things down if needed.
Questions to Ask Your Vet:
- The name of the medication and what it is supposed to do
- The dosage of the medication
- How many times a day it is to be given
- Is it given before, after or with meals
- How it should be stored
- For how many days it is to be given
- Are there any side effects to be aware of
- What to do if you miss a dose
- Remember sharing information works both ways between you and your veterinarian.
- Remind your vet of any medications and/or pet supplements you are giving your dog or cat.
- Keeping a list of medications and over the counter supplements as well as a copy of your pet’s records is also very helpful.
- Finally, never be afraid to call your vet once your get home with any questions or concerns you may have just to be sure.
- An ounce of prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure especially when your pet’s health is at risk!