Consider This a Public Service Announcement | Ninja Poodles Local

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Consider This a Public Service Announcement

Posted By on Tue, Nov 7, 2006 at 7:34 PM

In which I once again learn something new, and feel the need to share it.

We picked up some prescriptions at our local Walgreen's pharmacy today.  And here is where you learn something slightly freakish about me.  I am a compulsive pill-counter.  I wasn't always this way, but some years ago, when I was having my prescriptions filled elsewhere, I had a recurring problem with being shorted on my prescriptions, where pills were involved.  In other words, the number in the bottle did not match the number on the label.  This was happening, at the time, with narcotics.  And so it was that I began the counting of pills in any new prescription.

So today, my husband picked up some medicine for me, and brought it hom.  He took my two items out of the bag, and tossed them to bottle of Nasonex nasal spray, and a bottle of (notably NON-narcotic) pills for a stomach ailment.  Of course, I immediately opened and counted these, checking for the "30" pills that were noted on the bottle's label.  I counted 27.  Counted again, with Bella's assistance, and still...27.  Called the pharmacy, where I was informed by a tech that they were "like, really swamped right now," but that I could call back around 8:00 a.m. tomorrow and speak with a pharmacist, who would assist me in this problem.

The tech also let it slip that, nowadays, instead of actually COUNTING your pills when they fill your prescriptions, they just pour them onto a special electronic scale, set for the particular pill you're receiving, and plug in the amount that your prescribed number of pills should weigh, and when the numbers match up, they fill your bottle.  She also admitted that "sometimes the scales are a little off."

I have to wonder how often this happens.  If this is really how it's done nowadays, I'd guess pretty darned often.  Back 15 years ago or so, when I worked as a pharmacy technician in a couple of hospitals, pills were counted.  Counted.  By actual human beings.  And then they were counted again.  The pharmacists had these nifty little trays, upon which they'd pour a pile of pills from the bulk bottle, and the simultaneously count and scrape the pills into a little "trough" on the side of the tray.  Once counted, the top of the trough was closed, forming a kind of funnel, from which the pills were poured into the prescription bottle.

But now we have technology.  And, apparently, mistakes.  So, as a public service announcement from me to you, COUNT YOUR PILLS before leaving the pharmacy.  They might just "weigh" different than they "count."

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