Brush with death as pharmacy blunders!

A blunder by a pharmacist at a private pharmacy here in dispensing a prescription for acne problem could have proved fatal for a 23-year-old girl.

By Nada S. Mussallam

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Published: Sun 22 Aug 2004, 11:18 AM

Last updated: Thu 24 Nov 2022, 9:54 AM

The Arab girl, Hiba Ibrahim, who is on a visit to the UAE, was prescribed Lamisil cream and solution by her dermatologist. The pharmacist while reading the medicine took the cream, which the girl had to apply on face twice a day, for Lamisil 250mg tablets.

“I took 13 tablets, two tablets a day, as per the instructions. I thought that the pharmacist might have given me tablets instead of the prescribed ointment. I did not check the prescription because I was confidaent that the pharmacist will be careful in handing out the medicines.

“I was shocked to know from my dermatologist that I had been taking the wrong medication,” Hiba told this reporter. She said she had suffered acute gastrointestinal disturbances, headache, fatigue and weakness, in addition to lack of concentration.

“While I was taking these tablets I developed severe stomach disturbances accompanied by dizziness. I was not able to eat anything and my concentration was less. I even lost my appetite and had a kind of aversion to food,” said Hiba.

Speaking to .f+i.Khaleej Times.f-i., the dermatologist who wrote the prescription said the wrong medication the patient took might have developed serious troubles - the liver function might have been greatly disturbed.

“Luckily, the girl was young and does not suffer other diseases, otherwise it would have been pretty serious,” said the doctor, who requested anonymity.

She mentioned that she had received other complaints from patients regarding dispensing of wrong medication.

“Earlier, pharmacists used to complain about the doctors’ illegible handwriting which lead to such mistakes. The recently introduced computerised system at many hospitals and health facilities here has left little scope for these kinds of mistakes, as in most cases the prescription is in the printed form,” said the doctor.

In a bid to prevent such mistakes, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has announced that doctors, paramedics, pharmacists and technicians will have their licences revoked in they were found guilty of life-threatening medical errors. In the event of medical errors, the Licensing Committee at the Private Medical Practice Department at the ministry will probe the case and accordingly decide a penalty, Dr Abdul Kareem Al Zarouni, Director of the Curative Medicine Department at the MoH, told .f+i.Khaleej Times.f-i. yesterday.

He said the penalty ranges from closing down the facility and revoking the licence of the accused for a period to be decided by the committee, according to the gravity of the medical mistake.

About the steps taken by the ministry to prevent such mistakes from occuring, Dr Zarouni said the ministry had set up a computerised monitoring system in several hospitals, to follow up the procedures for prescriping and dispensing medicines.

“The ministry is on the process of introducing this system at all health institutions affiliated to the ministry,” added Dr Zarouni.

He said concerning the private sector, the ministry supervises the performance of private health facilities and provides them with necessary recommendations on various topics, so as to guarantee the safety and comfort of patients.

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