Mom gets abortion drug while pregnant: On accident

Katherine - posted on 02/08/2011 ( 15 moms have responded )

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It goes without saying that there's never a good time to have a pharmacy screw up your medication. But a pregnant woman just became the victim of a colossal error. She went into her Colorado pharmacy for an antibiotic and ended up with an abortion drug instead.

Did you just cringe a little? OK, a lot? The story of Mareena Silva has been haunting me since I read about the Colorado mom-to-be who unwittingly took a medicine that could spell the end to her dream of being a mom. Taking medicine -- any medicine -- when you're pregnant is scary enough. Now we have to add this fear?

Methotrexate, the drug accidentally prescribed to Silva, can be used to end pregnancies. But by and large it's used for cancer patients. It's like a bazillion other drugs -- ever listen to the TV ads where they say "consult your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding"? -- not recommended for pregnant women but entirely useful for women who aren't pregnant. So let's throw the abortion issue out here.

This isn't about abortion drugs. It's about pharmacies and the need to be that much more careful than your average business to get things right. Because pharmacists are the front lines of health care. A doctor writes a prescription, but a pharmacist actually puts a drug in a patient's hands.

And like Mareena Silva, most of us just open the bottle and chuck it back. We have no way of knowing whether that little pill in there is the right one for us. How would we? We're good at what we do in our jobs. We expect a pharmacist to be good at what he or she does.

But it's hard not to feel a little bit of extra sympathy for Silva. Because she's pregnant! And I remember being extra dubious about taking in anything extra when I was pregnant. But I took antibiotics too. I had a sinus infection, and with all those swollen membranes (hello pregnancy!), I was a miserable wreck. Finally my OB/GYN convinced me I wasn't doing anyone any favors -- least of all my fetus. So I bit the bullet, hating myself the whole time.

The fact is, most medicines and their effect on pregnant women remain largely untested. Because what pregnant woman in her right mind is going to sign herself up for a clinical trial? No one wants to make their fetus into the guinea pig -- and rightfully so. But that leaves pregnant women wary of medicines that could (or could not) be good for their bodies in the long run.

Now add this fear -- that the pharmacist will screw up royally -- and you could be sitting like Silva wondering whether you'll have a healthy normal baby (still a possibility), whether you'll have a miscarriage (again, a possibility for her), or someone's mistake will cause severe fetal defects.

Do you worry about taking doctor-approved medicines while pregnant?

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Sharon - posted on 02/09/2011

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It wasn't the pharmacists fault. It was whoever handed over the drugs. Usually not the pharamcist.

The correct drugs were dispensed into their correct containers but similar names gave rise to this complication.

The person who handed out the drugs should have double checked the name spelling and the drug. When I go to the pharmacy they ask me what I'm there to pick up. They want a drug name. I've always been very lackadaisical about it... "whatever the doctor wrote on the paper, I dunno he called it in" etc.

BUT I read the paperwork with the drugs. Especially new ones and most especially when i was pregnant.

I checked some of the pamphlets we have ... with those comes a description of the drug!! "should be a largish ovoid pill with the ##-## stamped on one side" You can't fuck that up if you can read. There is also a brief statment of what the pill is primarily for.

75% of this fuck up is on the dispensary. 25% is on her. Maybe its 50 - 50.

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Stifler's - posted on 02/09/2011

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Mike is right, it's whoever handed over the pills' fault for not checking the DOB and address! Here we have to sign the script and check our info and the medication has our name, DOB and address on it. They also like someone else pointed out should have been going through when to take, have you had this before etc. with the customer.

Brandi - posted on 02/09/2011

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They should have checked birthdates. They are ALWAYS supposed to ask date of birth before handing anyone the medication.

Marylea - posted on 02/09/2011

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Just to clarify a bit, Mareena Silva was perscribed antibiotics. The methotrexate was for a Maria Silva. When Mareena went to pick up her perscription the pharmist gave her the other woman's pills seeing as both women were M. Silva. That being said I still think the pharmacy should be held responsible. It was their mistake. They mixed up the patients and gave them the wrong meds. Apprently the pharmacist helped Mareena Silva pick out pernatal vitamins so they knew she was pregnant. Its a case of human error with huge consequences. I hope everything works out for this poor woman.

Marylea

Brandi - posted on 02/09/2011

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@MIKE HUNT how is it NOT the pharmacist fault?? I worked in a pharmacy for 7 years as a pharmacy tech. The cashier "who hands over the medicine" knows nothing about the medication. The pharmacist is the Final step in filling a precription, THEY ENTER IN THEIR INITIALS CONFIRMING THAT THEY HAVE CHECKED AND MADE SURE IT WAS THE CORRECT MEDICATION. That is their job. That is why they are paid over $100,000 a year. I don't understand how you could say that....

Now, if the doctor wrote the script for this drug, then the pharmacist would have a screen that pops up that warns him that this could be a danger for a pregnant woman, so he should have called the doctor to CONFIRM that this was indeed what needed to be filled. Then he should have had a consultation with the lady and warn her about it, AND tell her he had confirmed it with the doctor.

I could say more, but I will leave it at that.

Sal - posted on 02/09/2011

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i always always asked if it was nessersary, taked it through with the dr and also took the time to question the chemist as well, and when i was pregnant i always read the enclosed info, and have even rang the info line to double check once when it was a different dose or name (can't remember now) to double check- it was just another brand so a different dosage size per tablet, the pharmacy should get it right, they should double check but it is you who puts it in your mouth and it takes so little time in the grand scheme of things to check for your self..but i can see a law suit and probably a justified one

Jenni - posted on 02/09/2011

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That's so sad. Poor woman. I'd be pissed to no end. Didn't the pharmasist talk to her about the drug she was being given? Usually they tell you what the drug is used for and how to take it and what to avoid while on it. I thought they are obligated to go over it with you before just handing it over?



With my son I wouldn't even take a rolaid for my indigestion. Or even a cough drop. Even when i'm not pregnant I have to be doubled over in pain before I take an extra strength tylenol. But I'm in good health and have never really needed to take any medication aside from the occasional anti-biotic.

With my daughter my wisdom teeth starting acting up bad. I couldn't sleep or eat and was waiting on an appt to pull the one that was bothering me. After suffering through it a few weeks I asked my OBGYN what I could use for the pain and she prescribed T3s. I don't know what was worse suffering through the pain or suffering through the pain while completely spaced out and nauseous. So I took extra strength instead. I also eventually caved in and started taking tums for my indigestion after my OBGYN said I don't need to martyr myself.

User - posted on 02/09/2011

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No I don't worry,but its very common I don't take any type of medicine besides tums or prenatals,pregnant or not. That is also why,no matter what medicine my doctor prescribes,I read up on it to make sure I'm not taking something harmful.



I would have sued

Bonnie - posted on 02/08/2011

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Geez, I never thought of that. You can't even trust that you are going to get the proper medication.

Lacye - posted on 02/08/2011

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Personally, that pharmacist had better be praying I wouldn't wobble my pregnant ass up there and beat the hell out of him. If my child had anything wrong with it because of his/her fuck up, yeah, your ass will be grass. It's horrible that something like this has happened to this woman. I totally feel for her. I can't even begin to imagine what she is going through.

Valerie - posted on 02/08/2011

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It's a terrible mistake for sure. Mistakes with medications can be fatal, and pharmacists are acutely aware of this every time they fill a prescription. This is human error, simple as that.
Just a little point about the safety of medications during pregnancy - this is tested at the preclinical stage, so once a drug hits market, medical practitioners have a pretty good idea if a drug is safe for pregnant women - and they always err on the side of caution.

Tara - posted on 02/08/2011

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Hmm... lawsuit anyone?
I would be suing if anything happened to me or my fetus..
Unfortunately, if she did lose the baby or it is born with birth defects, they will just say "we can't determine for certain what caused the death or deformity etc" and it will simply be explained away.
That pharmacist should lose his license to dispense.
And why the hell wasn't there a consult about this med?
When I fill a prescription they always ask if I've had it before, if not they go through the whole thing with me.

Katherine - posted on 02/08/2011

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I agree, Amanda, normally the pharmacist does catch it. They will make you sign that you don't want a consultation too.
I have many pharmacists pull me aside to say one of my drugs will interact with another.

Stifler's - posted on 02/08/2011

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RU-whatever it is wasn't developed as an abortion drug it was developed for some other illness and it was discovered that it could cause miscarriage. There are about 8 other drugs that do the same thing. I do worry about taking medication while pregnant, for this reason. Luckily I've never had to take anything except Panadol.

Amanda - posted on 02/08/2011

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Wow I feel really bad for her, and clearly someone needs to be held responsible. I dont understand why the pharmacist didnt ask her why she was talking this. Mine always askes what the prescription is for, to make sure the doctor prescribed right (thats right pharmacist actually know more about drugs then doctors do, and in many cases catchs a doctors mistake more often then not). Then my pharmacist takes the time to tell me the risks of the prescription and possible side effects, (again not sure why he/she didnt talk to her about this too). I smell a major law suit.

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