Walmart Pharmacy Error Causes Teen To Lapse Into Coma

Jessie Scott, an 18-year-old from Draper, Utah has been in a coma since the end of April because of a critical error which occurred at a Walmart pharmacy. His doctor prescribed Jessie 5mg of Oxycodone Hydrochoride in a liquid solution to help him with the severe pain of his strep throat, however, what he received from the pharmacy was a concentrated solution which was supposed to have been diluted before being dispensed to Jessie. Exactly how much medication did Jessie consume?

He consumed 1 teaspoon measured in a medicine cup which in its concentrated state contained 20 times the prescribed dose (100mg) and within hours, his organs began to fail and had to be placed on a ventilator.

The KSLTV article says,

Laurie Scott said, “This shouldn’t have happened. It was needless. It was senseless and it’s changed lives forever, not just Jessie, but there are other people who love him and his future.”

Laurie trusted what she gave her son, what had been filled, was correct.

“I always ask questions. I’ve always medicated him his whole life. I’m the caregiver and it makes it extremely difficult,” she said.

After 16 days in ICU, Jessie moved to intermediate care for another four days, then to HealthSouth for intensive therapy.

Wal-Mart Corporation issued the following statement to KSL News: “This is a very sad situation. Our thoughts are with this young man and his family.”

There was a dramatic turn of events this weekend. For the first time, Jessie spoke, though the words are limited and intermittent. We will continue following his story in the weeks and months to come.

What makes this even more infuriating is that pharmacists receive extensive specialized training to prevent these exact types of situations. We are supposed to be able to trust that the medication the pharmacy prepares won’t kill us, or worse. We are, however, shocked that Walmart seems to actually be acknowledging the error–they usually deny everything until the point of absurdity. Our thoughts are with the Scott family, we hope that Jessie gets better soon.

Teen in coma after wrong dose of medication [KSLTV] (Thanks to Seth!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. thewriteguy says:

    “Walmart – Live Better” :-

  2. harleymcc says:

    cue the chorus…

    “Why would anyone shop at Wal-Mart, they got what they deserved.”

    Now that that is out there, let’s concentrate on the kid’s health, instead of blaming the victim.

  3. valtr0n says:

    First of all, who on earth would prescribe Oxycodone for this?

    That’s just out of hand, and it’s asking for trouble. Let’s give the kid a small does of liquid heroin for his strep throat.

  4. Gilbert Tang, Jr. says:

    The fact that it’s Walmart notwithstanding (sure, we could question working conditions, pressures, inadequate hiring practices, etc), it’s not irrational to think this could happen just about anywhere you fill a prescription (and probably has).

    What’s more troubling, however, is that there is ZERO way for the consumer to tell whether what they’re ingesting is safe, barring a second opinion. Every single time you take something it’s like playing Russion roulette.

    What safeguards, in addition to the ones supposedly already in existence, can be put into place to prevent this sort of atrocity?

    Next time I get a prescription I’m going to ask them to taste it first.

  5. Gilbert Tang, Jr. says:

    PS – I’m not sure what Russion roulette is. My guess is what I was really talking about is Russian roulette.

  6. Gilbert Tang, Jr. says:

    PPS – And by “is” I meant “was”.

    Stupid tenses.

    Rather, stupid me.

  7. @Gilbert:
    It hasn’t come up since I was a kid and got strep throat a lot, but given the choice between pills and something that needs to be mixed by some $8/hr pharmacy tech, I would choose pills. I think you are far less likely to get a bad pill that made it through QA, than get an overworked pharmacy tech who screws up a mixture.

    Honestly though, why do we still have medicines that require hand-mixing? I can understand it (_maybe_) for something obscure, but for a commonly prescribed narcotic (or any narcotic)?!

  8. Lars says:

    @valtr0n: Agreed. We’ve all had strep before and while it can be painful, prescribing such a powerful pain killer is irresponsible.

    • ShizaMinelli says:

      @Lars: Why comment unless you’ve been through many years of medical school? Without knowing ANY extenuating circumstances surrounding it either?

  9. opsomath says:

    @valtr0n: Sigh. It’s not that uncommon – my wife got prescribed hydrocodone (called “Tussionex” in this form, more commonly called Vicodin) for what was essentially a bad cough. It’s pretty standard to prescribe someone with symptoms making them absolutely miserable some kind of narcotic so they can rest.

  10. macMD says:

    The doctor prescribed what they felt was appropriate to help with the patients pain. I have take that medication in pill form and yeah, it can be something you shouldn’t want to take. But the issue is not why he took it but that WalMart screwed up caused significant pain and suffering to the family and could possibly have ruined the young mans life. They need to pay and they should get that checkbook out asap.

  11. vespolina says:

    Sure, it’s great that Walmart “acknowledged” the error – but are they Taking It Seriously?

  12. sleze69 says:

    @vespolina: Of course they are taking it seriously. Since that prescription was 20x too powerful, that soon-to-be-fired pharmacist cost them 19 high-priced orders of oxycodone.

    Walmart does not tolerate waste.

  13. afrix says:

    Wow. I’ve had strep, most recently about a year and a half ago. Quite literally, within an hour of starting antibiotics the pain lessened, and kept lessening noticeably.

    I can’t imagine wanting or asking for a pain reliever of any kind just for strep.

  14. Gilbert Tang, Jr. says:

    @Crim Law Geek: Agreed. The only times you hear of someone taking the wrong pill are those in which someone else’s prescription was given by mistake. This explains the rationale behind always checking your labels!

  15. @vespolina: Yes, but since he went to a hospital, and not back to Wal*Mart for treatment, it means they have no responsibility.

  16. Stickarm says:

    Heroin was originally sold as a cure for addiction to morphine and as a cough suppressant. Despite the fact that it eventually became clear that heroin isn’t a good cure for addiction to morphine, heroin is apparently still considered to be a good cough suppressant.


    Just goes to show you that you can’t keep a good cough suppressant down.

  17. The_IT_Crone says:

    Oxycodone for a strep throat?! Where is this doctor and can I become their patient? I’ve had serious injuries that they’ve forced me to use Ibuprofen because they’re so hyper-worried about addiction (which is NOT a problem I assure you, I just happen to have neon dyed hair which automatically makes me an addict). And this is a KID!

    Target did this to my Ex with blood pressure medication. It made his BP drop dangerously low, and he couldn’t stay awake.

    WTF with pharmacists these days? They figure that now that they don’t have to fill birth control they can lax on everything else?

  18. JohnMc says:

    Hmmm. Where’s the Pharma packaging on this?? Many industries clearly package commercial grade high potency stuff different from that of end consumer product of the same item. Several have referenced the presence of the doctor as well and I agree. Personally the ‘script should be legible with the dosage, the pharmacy should hand the ‘script back to customer marked ‘filled’. If they customer desires they can check what is being dispensed with what is tendered for consumption vs the doctors original.

    It just might have prevented this tragedy.

  19. toddy33 says:

    To you idiots with the to keep criticizing the doctor and/or the patient about the medication itself…where the hell is your medical degree? Wait…don’t have one? Then shut the hell up.

    I personally have suffered strep throat so badly that I required IV hydration because my fever was so high AND needed serious pain medication because I was near screaming and in tears every time I swallowed. Every patient is different, and that’s why hwe have doctors and prescriptions in the first place.

    This story is about a mistake that the pharmacist made, pure and simple.

    • ShizaMinelli says:

      @toddy33: THANK YOU!!! I love how everyone’s a medical expert now b/c their cousin’s sister’s best friend’s grandpa had strep throat in 1922.

  20. Veeber says:

    @Crim Law Geek: Other than the obvious “less water, cheaper to ship.” The oxycodone can be prescribed in a variety of doses. Instead of now storing 12 different concentrations (I don’t know how many off the top of my head) you take one concentrated amount and dilute it to the right concentration. There are also other medications, especially topical ones, which will be custom mixed based on the application (ointment, cream, multiple ingredients…)

    What might help in the future is to have a good color reference chart so that when you look at the liquid, after it is poured out you can at least gauge if the dilution is close.

  21. evslin says:

    I never got anything more than penicillin for strep throat. Must have been the strep throat from hell if that kid was getting oxycodone for it.

  22. ScubaSteveKzoo says:

    I’m not a usually proponent of “Sue them up the butt like there’s no tomorrow,” but for this I’d make an exception.
    Clearly, negligence on the part of the Wal-Mart pharmacist should result in a hefty settlement.

  23. INTPLibrarian says:

    @Lars: Uhm, not all strep throats feel the same. Even different infections in the same person at different times can vary a LOT.

    Like @toddy33, I’ve had a case where it was painful enough that there was no way I could swallow a pill. It was torture enough swallowing liquid.

    (In addition to not blaming the victim, I’m also not blaming the posters who thought strep didn’t need such a prescription… I assume if you’ve only had it in a milder form, it *would* seem extreme.)

  24. Red_Eye says:

    And this is exactly why narcotics should only be dispensed by a hospital. If I had a penny for every time I have corrected a walmart pharmacist I could own walmart. If they cant get it through their effing head that when a doctor prescribes a 20 day antibiotic regimen for a child due to recurring ear infection, that they cant give you 20 days worth of liquid at once (the antibiotic in question in liquid form had a shelf life of 14 days after mixing) how can you trust them with narcotics?

  25. ppiddy says:

    @The_IT_Crone: “WTF with pharmacists these days? They figure that now that they don’t have to fill birth control they can lax on everything else?”

    I don’t have stats to back this up, but I suspect that errors at pharmacies are much more infrequent than they were 50 years ago. I think we just hear about the mistakes a lot more frequently because news travels quicker.

    Operations engineers have spent a lot of time and money poka-yoke’ing the hell out of pharmacies to try to reduce medical errors. It’s a lot cheaper to invest in designing safe systems than to pay out on lawsuits like this Wal-Mart is not facing.

  26. TipsyRussell says:

    Pharmacists are continually overworked without enough qualified help, and the big stores (not just Wal-Mart, but all of them) are notorious for this. There are too many pharmacies and not enough pharmacists. My dad’s a pharmacist and he’s terrified that something like this will happen to him. I’m sure the pharmacist feels absolutely awful. He’s thinking about leaving a job that he just started because when he gets to work in the morning, he already has over 100 prescriptions to fill on top of the 12 hour day ahead of him. Mistakes are bound to happen when you’re being worked like that, and he’s not willing to risk it.

  27. chrisjames says:

    I wouldn’t be shocked about Walmart fessing up. They’re setting up the pins to decrease the chance of a lawsuit; in case of a lawsuit, get a relaxed judgement by immediately claiming culpability; scapegoat the pharmacist and any other throwaway people related to the incident; and play the good guy the whole time as a PR move. All they have to do now is wait for the family to act, then they can knock ’em all down. They probably won’t even have to review their shitty pharmacy standards.

  28. TipsyRussell says:

    @TipsyRussell: I meant my dad’s thinking about leaving his new job, not the pharmacist in the story.

  29. What I would like to know is what was written on the bottle the pharmacy gave the kid? What concentration was written on the bottle.

    I’m assuming it’s was the concentration the doctor wrote, but can’t make out the pictures.

    For those of you who asked who give Oxycodone for strep, are any of you doctors? I asked because I’m in med school and all the books I’ve come across stated that Oxycodone can be given in strep throat and in some cases must be given.

  30. Mr_Human says:

    Recently, I had my simvastatin refilled at a Duane Reade here in NYC. When I checked the contents, I noticed the pills were a different color than usual. I went back to the pharmacy, and sure enough, they had filled my script with the wrong meds. They kind of laughed it off as a funny mistake. Ha ha.

  31. timsgm1418 says:

    @afrix: have to agree here, usually ibuprofen is enough, and if not, usually within 2-3 days the antibiotics have kicked in. I had my kidney removed 3 weeks ago, and even though the Dr prescribed 30 Dilaudid pills, I only used 3, and have used ibuprofen since (ocassional 1/2 percocet at night so I can be comfortable enough to sleep) I cant even imagine a doctor giving oxycodone for strep throat. Maybe I should have gone to their doctor, I would have gotten some really good pain meds.
    However, this is completely Walmarts fault, more training is needed for the pharmacy techs, and Walmarat needs to shell out the big bucks.
    I wonder is it the actual pharmacist that mixes this, or just a tech?

  32. timsgm1418 says:

    @Mr_Human: wow, I would think that’s more than just a funny mistake, good thing you knew to check, but as someone else said with pills it is easier to do that, you may not have noticed with liquid

  33. loganmo says:

    Before I had a tonsillectomy a few years ago, I used to get recurrent strep throat and tonsillitis. A couple of times the pain was so severe that NSAID’s like ibuprofen just didn’t cut it. Everyone has different pain thresholds.

  34. fostina1 says:

    walmart wont pay now. the guy went to a different mechanic and the evidence got contaminated. if he just would have went back to walmart first before the evidence was contaminated im sure they would have worked something out.

  35. statnut says:

    @valtr0n: Are you a doctor, or do you just play one online?

  36. MayorBee says:

    @hypochondriac: The stick-on label says “TAKE ONE TEASPOONFUL EVERY 4 HOURS AS NEEDED FOR THROAT PAIN” I can’t make out what the concentration on the Oxycodone is on that label. It looks like there’s a 25 in there. If 100mg/teaspoon was 20 times too much, the dosage should have been 5mg/teaspoon, or 1mg/mL. I did a search on liquid oxycodone concentrations and 1mg/mL is a valid concentration, as is 20mg/mL. I couldn’t find any information as to what the concentration of the pharmacy bottle would be.

  37. harryhoody says:

    I feel sorry for the kid, but accidents do happen. Pharmacists are human. I hope his recovery is quick.

  38. Cerb says:


    Exactly, unless you have a degree in medicine, stfu about why he was prescribed oxycodone. Strep throat can be quite serious and aside from the pain issue, if the kid had a concurrent cough, oxy or a similar drug would be a reasonable choice as it is a cough suppressant. Everybody on the internet is an expert…

  39. Poor kid. I honestly hope he pulls through.

  40. TWinter says:

    Hmmmm, I recently noticed that my pharmacy has started printing descriptions of pills on the label with shape, color, and markings of what should be inside. This makes me realize what a really good idea that is.

  41. @Crim Law Geek: “Honestly though, why do we still have medicines that require hand-mixing?”

    More specific dosing, which leads to better therapy. (We’re not all 180-lb. white males.) Different delivery mechanisms, which can lead to easier consumption (magic mouthwash FTW). Different mixes of meds for people with different problems or allergies.

    My cat gets his meds at the compounding pharmacy, which compounds for people and pets both. He can’t be pilled, so we get his antibiotics (when he has a UTI) in a transdermal form that can be rubbed on his ears and absorbed through the thin skin there. Since animals come in so many different sizes, they can also provide common medicines in the proper dose for your pet’s weight. One they do a lot of at the compounding pharmacy is medicine-in-lollipops for very sick kids in severe pain who are resisting taking yet another medicine. They also do a lot for older people with problems swallowing, or who have to take many medicines every day.

  42. @TWinter: You can also buy a book with thousands of common pills described and pictured with whats on the front/back, etc., for about $6.95 — pediatricians used to recommend parents have one on hand — or you can use those newfangled intertubes the kids are all talking about to look up pill appearance. For folks whose pharmacy doesn’t do the descriptors.

  43. Cliff_Donner says:

    We are, however, shocked that Walmart seems to actually be acknowledging the error . . .

    Actually, the only statement from Walmart that I see in the posting or linked article is “This is a very sad situation. Our thoughts are with this young man and his family,” which falls far short of accepting any liability whatsoever.

  44. dragonfire1481 says:

    I know a lot of folks down here that use Wal-Mart pharmacy and I haven’t heard of any problems with them. It’s not fair to assume all pharmacy techs are incompetent because of this one incident.

    Having said that, Wal-Mart definitely needs to cough up some green for this poor kid and his family.

  45. unpolloloco says:

    Unfortunately, these kind of errors are inevitable. Pharmacists are dispensing massive quantities of drugs, and even at a 99.99% accuracy rate (number that’s completely made up), 1/10000 prescriptions will be screwed up. No amount of training will completely prevent every mixup. I’d say that it would almost be better to make everything over-the-counter (except antibiotics) so that the patient is the one responsible for his or her own health, not the pharmacist (this wouldn’t be legal, however).

  46. BeeBoo says:

    This appears to be a simple pharmacist error.

    Would this error have happened at another pharmacy or does Wal-Mart have deficient hiring practices or inappropriate procedures or systems in place to prevent errors?

  47. mhutt says:

    I have strep throat right now. i took a hydrocodone last night. i took it so hopefully i would get a few hours of sleep. i never noticed before but when you are sleeping you swallow every now and then. But right now everytime i swallow it is excruciating. So i took 1/2 a pill and did sleep 9pm-1am without waking up, that is the longest i have slept in three days. I can imagine that was what this teen and his mother were hoping for. It may not have been, gee my throat hurts lets take vicodin, but hoping for relief for more serious pain. If there had been a liquid form I definitely would have chosen that option.

  48. pegr says:

    Where Walmart may be liable is the manner in which the pharmacy is operated, and what internal controls may or may not be present. I imagine there are specific operational requirements mandated by the state as well. If they were in violation of state law or have other control problems, Walmart could be in a serious world of hurt. The pharmacist is royally screwed either way.

    As for the kid, Godspeed fella. Sorry about your luck. I hope for a full recovery.

  49. SacraBos says:

    There are several medications I’ve gotten from a pharmacy that require hydrating or dilution. You see this most often with kids drugs, since they can’t take pills very well sometimes. Antibotics are often in powered form in the bottle, so they put the right amount of water for the right concentration.

    We’ve gotten prescriptions filled from Walgreens incorrectly, too. My daughter got double dosed for a month on a medication, and my wife got higher dosages of a antibiotic. Fortunately, neither was health impacting. You should ALWAYS have the doctor explain the dosage and usage, and double check the prescription yourself with the pharmacist.

    Very sad…

  50. gregcuc says:

    I wonder if there was some way the kid could have known if he read the package, or if that is just the standard box they give for that drug.

    I’m sure the street price for that will help pay for the medical bill when Walmart starts placing blame on the consumer.

  51. LJKelley says:

    Thats why pills are the best, nothing to muck up! The colour/shape of the pills should match what is printed on the container and the mg is usually stamped on the pills themselves. When I had strep throat I got lortabs which wore more than enough to ease the pain (your not suppose to fell 100% healthy when your not, there is a reason we have pain so that we rest). Second the shot of penecilin worked really fast, you could feel it working.

  52. k1ckstand says:

    Surprisingly, Wal-Mart is not the issue here. Unlike the vast majority of their unskilled employees, Wal-Mart pharmacists are hired from the same pool of educated talent that every other pharmacy has access to. Hell, Wal-Mart has some of the highest signing bonuses for pharmacists, so they’re usually a first choice to new graduates. The real issue is the quality of graduate Wal-Mart has to choose from now.

    Lets face it, pharmacy is the new IT. Its hot, its easy and everyone is doing it. Problem is, not everyone is cut out to handle that level of responsibility. Having been in a long term relationship with a pharmacy graduate student I can tell you there are definately people out there that should NOT have their PharmD. Let me put it to you this way, her graduating class had a slogan, “C = PharmD.” Guess what? Her graduating class had the lowest overall GPA average of the past 10 years. Simply frightening.

    I’m far from a tree-hugging holistic, but I avoid medication and dietary suppliments. I combat most health issues with a controlled diet and plenty of exercise. Until the U.S. pulls a Canada and starts allowing mail-ordered meds, we’re going to see an influx of kids trying to ride a wave of money for nothing.

  53. SchuylerH says:

    @Red_Eye: “And this is exactly why narcotics should only be dispensed by a hospital.”

    Yes, because hospitals never screw up dosages.

  54. JackWalker says:

    @valtr0n: First and foremost. I think the doctor would be the only one to determine whether or not the patient required that prescription.

    Secondly, I feel an urgent need to address the “liquid heroin” comment. Oxycodone is synthesized from thebaine. Heroin is synthesized from morphine. The only relation the two drugs have is that they are opioids. That’s it.

    All in all, the Wal-Mart pharmacy made a reckless mistake. They endangered the life of a young man and they’ll be lucky if they don’t see some sort of lawsuit.

  55. SchuylerH says:

    @LJKelley: “That’s why pills are the best, nothing to muck up!”

    Unless the pharmacy changes the source for its generic medication and fills your 10mg prescription with 5mg pills, which you only notice when you refill and open the new bottle to discover that this time they did get the dosage right but for the last month you’ve been taking half as much medication as you should.

    Then again, this was Kaiser Permanente, which makes Wal-Mart look like the Mayo Clinic.

  56. temporaryerror says:

    @mhutt: There IS a liquid form. It’s called Lortab Elixir. Onto the screwup, there are two commonly RX’d forms of liquid oxycodone: one that is 1 mg/ml for acute pain in people without opioid tolerances, and one that is 20 mg/ml for people with existing opioid tolerances. (think cancer patients). They were probably next to each other on the shelf and the pharmacist grabbed the wrong bottle and slapped the correct label on it. A result of corp pharmacy’s drive to churn as many RX’s as possible.

  57. varro says:

    @MayorBee: Oxycodone in pill form comes in 5, 20, 80, and 160 mg doses, so a 100 mg is within the normal range.

    Although some 18-year-old kid is much less likely to have tolerance to the meds than Rush Limbaugh…

  58. floraposte says:

    There’s an industry study based on observing selected pharmacies (not self-reporting, in other words) that found accuracy rates varying from 87.2%-100%, with no particular rate difference in different cities or types. 6.5% of the errors were judged to be “clinically important” (I don’t know what that standard means in real terms). Clearly, the existence of errors is not linked to a particular store.

  59. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    That poor child and also, I feel bad for the guy that made the mistake, probably an honest guy who’s gonna have a world of guilt on his shoulders.

  60. TipsyRussell says:

    @Red_Eye: The pharmacists that work at hospitals are the same as the pharmacists that work at wal-mart.

  61. lalaland13 says:

    I have a friend who’s a pharmacy tech, and he’s never screwed up like this, but I think he’s made a mistake or two that was barely caught in time. It’s pretty scary thinking about, and they are honest mistakes. Makes me glad that with my job, when I mess up, no one’s life is in danger. Also, he works at a hospital pharmacy.

  62. mariospants says:

    Walmart lawyers are gonna claim that since she took the boy to a regular hospital at the first sign of trouble (instead of taking him to a Walmart pharmacist), they “tampered with the evidence” and are no longer liable for any damage to the child.

    Just like when they mess up your oil change.

  63. lalaland13 says:

    And I’ve had throat pain so bad I hated swallowing and did it as little as possible. Liquid at least coats the throat, or so Dr. Mom says.

    Once I was giving a sick dog an injection and didn’t see a decimal point, gave her like 10 times the amount. I was a teenager, and later she died, and I felt like crap, but my mom assured me, and I guess she was right, that I didn’t kill her. Being sick killed her. I may have just uh, made it a little less painless. But for a while I was convinced I had killed the poor thing.

  64. tdicola says:

    Why do we need humans mixing drugs. Can’t a machine do this job with an extraordinarly small chance of error?

  65. LostAngeles says:

    @afrix: Yeah. I had what amounted to a permanent case of strep in my tonsils so I was on various antibiotics until they got me in to take them out. Otherwise I was in pain. This was after a fairly high number of strep throat infections. I mean, I was 10, and I just got used to, “Oh hey, strep time again?”

    I’ve gotten so used to the good service at the pharmacy on campus that I fear re-entering the real world.

  66. I’ve gotten liquid Tylenol 3 for sore throats before but oh jeeze.. liquid Oxycodone? If you are in that much pain from a sore throat I don’t know how you could even swallow anything and you should probably be in the hospital for observation.

  67. satoru says:

    I work in healthcare so I can make some comments on this:

    First Walmart HAS to accept responsibility because of HIPPA and all sorts of other regulations. You can stonewall consumers, but if you fuck with HIPPA you’re in for a world of hurt. If someone is injured or killed because of a potential drug interaction or incorrect perscription, the regulators come down on you like a sack of bricks, no matter who the hell you are. They can revoke Medicaid refunds or whatever they want until you fix the problem. So in this case ‘taking it seriously’ is actually true since it affects their fairly profitable pharmacy division.

    A lot of these errors are due to the chicken scratches of doom that doctors write out for perscriptions. e-perscribing is somewhat coming into the forefront but it’s still in its infancy. I think this will go a long way to reduce the amount of the wrong type of persciptions being done at the pharmacy level.

    In this case its probably a mixture of mistakes but the article is very slim on actual details of the persription so it’s difficult to determine. Sometimes perscriptions can be confusing to interpret even if it’s written down clearly.

  68. Burgandy says:

    I was one of those people who had an annual case of strep, for count them, 8 years. I still remember the pain, think of swallowing a box of razor blades and your getting close. I’ve been Rx’ed all kinds of narcotics for the pain, and it was always needed. Lightheaded from drugs is always better than lightheaded from pain.
    This story is just reinforcing my decision to go to our little locally owned pharmacy.

  69. satoru says:

    @tdicola: There isn’t any real benefit to doing this. Even if you just consider drug tablets, there are so many different sizes, colors, shapes, etc that it would be impossible to create a way to automate this. Even for liquids, since each patient would require different dosings and dilutions it’s somewhat impractical to implement this.

  70. doireallyneedausername says:

    @Crim Law Geek:

    Lets be straight here…the pharm techs don’t earn $8/hour. These are high five/low six-figure positions. So don’t blame their error on low compensation.

  71. TipsyRussell says:

    @doireallyneedausername: Pharmacy technicians make little more than cashiers.

  72. satoru says:

    Just to point out too lots of these kinds of errors are unintentional. One common error is:

    1.0mg => 10 mg (not reading the decimal correctly)

    I think in this case the error was probably something where a / was used instead of a per. So something like

    5ml/100ml =>5 ml and 100ml dose. Instead of diluting 5ml into 100ml.

  73. satoru says:



    Walmart cashiers make about $10/hour, while the average pharmacist makes about $15/hour which is a decent increase (50%!)

    You don’t really hit the high 5 figure mark unless you work in a big hospital doing fairly complex types of drugs like IV and other esoteric things.

  74. JaguarChick says:


    You are confusing a pharmacist (PharmD, mucho school) with a pharmacy technician (education requirements vary by hiring pharmacy).

    Some pharmacy technicians have little more than a H.S. diploma and are paid accordingly. However, ALL pharmacy employees are overworked and many have ‘quotas’ and ‘metrics’ that they are told to meet. Hence, errors.

  75. jackal676 says:

    @Burgandy: I would say that’s pretty dead on with my pain experience. I got strep three times in a row, with maybe a week in between each case. I went to the doctor and got antibiotics each time. The pain from the last case of strep was actually worse than much of the pain when recovering from my tonsillectomy shortly thereafter. Oh, but the pain about 4 days after the operation, that was definitely the worst.

  76. RulesLawyer says:

    If only young George Bailey had been there to stop Mr. Gower from filling that prescription! (stolen comment from very similar CVS story two months ago)

  77. synergy says:

    We must’ve been hardcore because when I was a kid the only thing used for the pain of strep throat was that spray stuff you can buy OTC that numbs you for, like, 10 minutes. Although now that I think of it, it wasn’t even as helpful as a spray at the time. It was more like the Hall’s stuff or a liquid which barely touched the throat on its way down the gullet. :-p

  78. atrixe says:


    I hate to say it, but hospitals are no better when it comes to preventing mixups when dispensing drugs. See here and here and here and… oh I think you get the point.

    Sadly, it seems that it should be easy to avoid these kinds of mistakes. I get a prescription for a Schedule II controlled substance {I have narcolepsy} filled monthly at a Rite Aid and I have noticed that the pharmacy manager always double-checks the bottled prescription after it has been filled, but before it has been sold to me. Whether this has to do with safety or preventing theft of a highly desirable medication I don’t know, but I think it is a smart move.

    Additionally, there must be some way to implement alerts into the pharmacy system. For example, all medications that come in a concentrated form should cause an alert to appear reminding the pharmacist to dilute it.

    I don’t blame the victim or his family in this case, but it is always a good idea to carefully go over a prescription with your doctor before leaving, to make sure you have a clear understanding of what the proper dosage is, etc. Doing so prevented me from taking 10mg of a medication when only 1.0mg was prescribed. Thankfully, several of my doctors work out of a medical center where all of the prescriptions are typed up on a computer and printed out, which makes it easier to decipher.

  79. mizmoose says:

    Some people deal with pain worse than others. Some people’s pain is worse than others.

    Just because YOU had something and YOU weren’t in extreme pain doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t need something stronger than OTC painkillers for THEIR instance of the illness.


    Also, there’s some belief, probably from all the abuse of the long-acting version, that oxycodone is some super strong, more powerful drug than hydrocodone and codeine as a pain killer. It’s really not. Tylenol 3? Is pretty much the same thing as vicodin and percocet, except using codeine instead of hydrocodone or oxycodone.

    Now, if he were prescribed liquid morphine… mmmmmmm mmmmmorrrphiiiinnne….

  80. synergy says:

    @TWinter: They just started? Down here in the backwoods of Texas they’ve been doing it for over a decade. I know because I have a bunch of diabetic relatives and, especially with my mother we always check the pill versus the description, the dosage etc. But then she taught me to be paranoid about that and asking wtf if the pill suddenly looks different.

  81. WEGGLES90 says:


    Oh I didn’t know you were a doctor…

    There couldve been more to it than just strep throat, it could be a particularly bad case, could be infected and what not. Most doctors don’t give out perscription pain killers for fun.

  82. dangermike says:

    always, Always, ALWAYS doublecheck your prescriptions. Even if you have absolutely NO idea what any of it means, it shouldn’t be beyond any literate person to see that the name of the patient, the name of the drug, and numbers like dosage match the prescription, and if any differences are noted, it should be brought to the attention of the pharmacist and/or doctor attending to the case. It’s also important to read the documentation that comes with any prescription. It will often list recommend dosages. While I would not place the blame for this incident on the consumers, it is entirely possible that diligence on their part could have prevented it.

  83. Gilbert Tang, Jr. says:

    @Veeber: More importantly though, there should be a fail safe mechanism to make certain the proper concentrations are given.

  84. From reading the recent strings of posts on Consumerist, I wouldn’t trust them with my CAR. Why would anyone trust them with their LIFE by buying drugs there. Not blaming the OP… just pointing that out.

  85. simplekismet says:


    Pharm techs don’t earn $8/hr but they’re not earning six figures – not even high fives. It depends on the area but you’re looking at between $12-30/hr, DOE and locale and the type (hospital versus retail).

    In general,

    Pharm TECHs don’t make mistakes. PHARMACISTS do. It is the responsibility of the pharmacist to check every script that leaves and as such the responsibility of the error falls on the pharmacist. And every pharmacist I know understands and accepts this. I have been to plenty of pharmacies where techs are not even filling prescriptions because the pharmacist does not want to deal with it, or believes it’s easier for them to be in “error catching” mode if they fill and check the script themselves.

    In my opinion, a script requiring dilution like that should never have been done at a Wal-Mart(/Longs/RiteAid/CVS/Wag). A compounding pharmacy, yes. Unfortunately there’s no way for the patient to know that before they drop it off.

    My dad recently had a heart attack and is now on 12 different drugs and even with my pharmacy experience I’m still reeling at what it takes to take care of him. My advice for everyone is to keep a copy of the prescription, compare the copy to the bottle. No, you’re not going to be able to read the doctor’s chicken scratch, but you should at least be able to make out the strength. Do your comparison at the counter, before you pay for the drugs. (I never minded when patients did this at my pharmacy, no matter how many people in line.. so if the staff gets bitchy I’d recommend taking your business elsewhere). ASK the pharmacist if you have questions, even if they don’t offer (the legally required) counselling. I asked my dad’s pharmacist to show me the original prescription when I had a problem.. he gladly pulled it out and explained it to me.

    -A pharm tech with a BS heading to pharmacy school

  86. blzbob says:

    I am a pharmacy technician and I make more than minimum wage. This type of mistake can be avoided but let’s not forget that we are dealing with humans that are not error free. What happened is a tragedy and I am certain that the team involved is wrestling with the consequences and I’m not talking about financial consequences.

    Doctors and their representatives make mistakes like this regularly as well. I had a conversation with someone calling in a prescription for Levoxyl 150mcg. She called in 150mg and I repeated it back to her saying 100mcg. Her response was “microgram, milligram, close enough.” It’s not close enough. I knew what the correct strength was, but the lack of concern was appalling.

    Patients can ask questions, and should. I can tell you that the very high majority of patients with new prescriptions do not want any counseling. When I offer to have the pharmacist come over, they say they will call with questions if they have any. OBRA ’90 requires pharmacists to counsel new prescriptions to all Medicaid patients. Many pharmacies require the pharmacist to counsel all patients on new prescriptions. Here in my state, it is required.

    We don’t know the whole story. Yes, the pharmacist is ultimately at fault here. However, this doesn’t mean that he or she should be crucified.

    As for the wages and types of drugs that are filled, the pharmacist makes considerably more than $15. The technician makes about $15. The cashier, in my state it is called Pharmacy Assistant or B-Tech, makes just over minimum wage. The types of drugs that are filled (C-II through C-V, legend, OTC, and what may become BTC) doesn’t change simply because we are not a hospital pharmacy. What does change is the drugs we dispense. Our pharmacy doesn’t do too much in the way of compounding. There are also some drugs that are not supposed to be dispensed in a community pharmacy.

  87. JaguarChick says:

    @West Coast Secessionist:

    Why would anyone trust them with their LIFE by buying drugs there?

    Answer: Because they are cheap. Also, their prices along with the pressure of CVS/Walgreens have driven the mom and pop pharmacies out of business.

    Sometimes price is the only factor people use in their medical care…which is absolutely insane in my opinion. Cut-rate lasik surgery? So you save a few grand but could go blind or have vision problems for the rest of your life. But hey, you SAVED money! Cheap plastic surgery? Sure your new nickname is Wonky McBoobs or Michael Jackson, but it sure was cheap!

  88. Sugarless says:

    I contacted Wal-mart after my mother realized she’d been given someone else’s prescription, twice. The names didn’t match, the prescriptions were in no way similar drugs and she had to show her license and insurance card to get the prescriptions.
    Wal-mart’s only response was that they would speak to the pharmacy.

    My mother changed to another pharmacy.

  89. parad0x360 says:

    jesus 100 mg is even more then a heroin addict would need to take to get high off that stuff. Its simply amazing this kid didnt die within an hour.

    Walmart you are screwed this time. All of those liquid opiates come in a concentrate and must be diluted. How in the hell did they forget!?

  90. dumblonde says:

    I’m very sorry to hear about this. I hope the kid gets better and that his family sues Wal-mart for so much money that they’ll be able to pay his college tuition in advance (hoping that he’ll not have brain damage that’ll prevent him from going to college). The very least Wal-Mart can do is pay the medical bill and of course rightful compensation for the family’s suffering.

  91. katylostherart says:

    human error will trump every precaution. i hope walmart continues their acknowledgement of this by paying all the medical bills at bare minimum.

  92. alysbrangwin says:

    @harleymcc: I hope WalMart is footing the bill for the medical expenses caused by their negligence. If not, I hope Jessie’s family sues them and that he recovers quickly.

  93. blzbob says:

    @parad0x360: This is simply not true. Some come in two different concentrations. The manufacturer needs to take some responsibility if the boxes look very similar. The FDA needs to take some responsibility if they allowed the packaging to look similar. There are regulations in place to help alleviate these problems.

    With all the comments about how bad the pharmacist and the team was, I wonder if anyone considered that we all make mistakes. In this case the mistake is minor. It was a simple mix-up that anyone could have made. The consequences are extreme and I would hope that anyone would endeavor to prevent this from happening again.

    A single incident from this pharmacist does not constitute a problem with lack of care.

  94. reznicek111 says:

    Slightly OT, but in this day and age why on Earth are most prescriptions still handwritten? Illegible and scrawled prescriptions are a huge cause of medication errors, and many of these could be prevented if scrips were typed/computer printed. The prescribing physician could still sign by hand if necessary, though I’ve seen some doctors use prescription pads with preprinted or stamped sigs. Sure, it would be an extra step – but, so is having the pharmacy call the original prescriber to verify the medication’s name or dosage.

  95. reznicek111 says:

    @reznicek111: forgot to include two links relating to the need for standardized printed prescriptions:


  96. picardia says:

    @afrix: I’ve had strep throat too — and when I had it, I also had mono. As a result, my symptoms were absolutely excruciating, and they stayed that way for weeks, even with tons of antibiotics. If anybody had offered me a liquid narcotic, I would’ve wept with gratitude.

    Moral of the story: Symptoms differ. Your experience is not everyone’s experience. And when you blame the OP in a situation like this, you’re a jackass.

  97. temporaryerror says:

    @varro: said:”Oxycodone in pill form comes in 5, 20, 80, and 160 mg doses, so a 100 mg is within the normal range.”

    Yes, but when you get upwards of 10 mg, the pills are ext. release (drug released over 12 hours) so it all doesn’t hit your system at once. This kid got 100 mg at once. Also, the 160 mg pills aren’t produced anymore, and there is also 10, 15, 30, and 40 mg strengths.

  98. madog says:

    Oxycontin is made of pure oxycodone hydrochloride.

    The stuff your hear about “hillbilly heroine” is oxyCONTIN. Yes, the main ingredient is oxyCODONE but the oxycontin is developed itself to be a “time release”. Oxycodone medicine usually contain acetaminophen [Tylenol] and isn’t bad for minor to high amounts of pain, and liquid forms, like the article says, is normally watered down a lot to produce a small amount of instant relief.

    Oxycodone 4-6 hours
    oxycontin 8-12 hours

    What people do to make it so bad is ABUSE it. They take the time-release formula of oxycodone [again, oxycontin and other names], crush it up in some way and inject it or snort it or whatever, to take in the entire intended 12 hour release instantly.

    As far as this kid being given CONCENTRATED oxycodone hydrochloride and ingesting 100mg of the stuff? I believe the largest pill of ocycontin they provide [one pill for all day] is 80mg. He dosed about 100mg in liquid form instantly.

  99. gzusrox says:

    wal-mart messed up with me too. i refilled my blood thinner at the same time as a new prescription which was a anti-inflammatory, but also acted as a blood thinner, it also can cause ulcers in your stomach. they never said one word. blood thinners can be very dangerous especially if your blood gets too thin. you can have internal bleeding, if you cut yourself you can bleed to death,if you fall you can have internal bleeding and must head to the emergency room to be checked out. i am prone to falling as i have a bad hip, had i fallen i would not have known to go to the emergency room. thanks wal-mart.

  100. StupidDufus says:

    Now, I’m all for drinking from the Wal-Mart hate-or-aid, but c’mon, this stuff happens other places as well.

    Yes, pharmacists go to school for this stuff, but guess what, journalists many times go to school and get a degree that says the person is competent and knows the basics of spelling and grammar, yet I see many publications with errors.

    Yeah, it’s not life threatening if someone incorrectly uses a semicolon, but mistakes DO happen, whatever the profession.

  101. Last_Raven says:


    I agree. You talk about mistakes made in a medical environment, researchers, lab techs, nurses, humans, etc. make mistakes. Not everyday, but let’s say you have a 99.9% success rate with your dilutions and you do 10,000 samples a month. You just sent the wrong results for 10 people and now they may be on improper treatments that could be life threatening.

    They go to school to prevent this kind of stuff from happening. In fact, anyone who takes chem 101 should be able to dilute something properly, but sometimes stuff happens and instead of adding 90mL you add 9mL because you dropped a 0 somewhere.

  102. screwtapeletters says:

    Yeah, it’s not uncommon for kids to be prescribed oxycodone or other pain drops when their strep throats get so severe that they have trouble swallowing food. Kids’ tolerance for that kind of pain is much lower than an adults, and their condition can turn south from not eating just as quickly.

    That being said, there really is no excuse for this, which is why Walmart is taking responsibility. This sort of thing is exactly why pharmacists have to go through so much training and schooling.

  103. J.Heck says:

    Good God.

    Although I realize that these things can and do happen, I also know, at least in my neck of the woods, that the Wallyworld pharmacy messes up continuously and has a couple of pill thieves in their midst. I ended up transferring all of my prescriptions when my vicodin refill was 10 pills short. I went up the food chain about it, but nobody did anything.

    I sent this story to my husband and his response was, “You are never getting medication from WalMart again”. Yea, I got no prob with that, that’s for sure.

  104. gwenniewoot says:

    I was a pharmacy tech for 5 years, and here are the questions and comments I have:

    A) The last time I checked, we NEVER mixed Oxycodone concentrate. You NEVER opened a sealed bottle that was intended for one patient. It came in a 30 ml bottle and the doctor was supposed to take into account that it was concentrate and dose accordingly. So the doctor could have been at fault, unless the tech who entered the order messed up the sig information (dosing).

    B) I know people who work at a Wal-Mart pharmacy, and the pharmacy techs, certified or not, were never allowed to touch Controlled Substances or Narcotics. Only the pharmacist filled and dispensed those. So it wasn’t a tech. Unfortunately, many people are right. Retail pharmacy is awful and the pharmacists hardly get any help, so they are stressed out and overworked. 12 hour shifts for pharmacists should be banned, considering that they are working straight through those 12 hours and hardly get any breaks.

    C) Pharmacists are HIGHLY qualified. It sounds like most people don’t know this, but pharmacists coming out of school right now are considered doctors. They get their doctorate, so they ARE doctors. The technical term for them is Doctor of Pharmacy. They take an 8 year degree and cram it down to 6 years of schooling, but they go year round at 21 credit hours for most semesters. So stating that most pharmacists are idiots and that they would trust a doctor with medicine more is ludicrous. Their entire degree is about drugs, their chemical compounds, interactions, etc. Doctors are qualified, I’m not saying that, but as far as I knew, they only spend a semester or two on pharmacology. Yes, pharmacists are over worked and make mistakes, but doctors are in the exact same boat.

    4. If anyone is worried about whether or not they received the right pill (since there are so many different kind of generics of so many drugs), you should refer to this database and it will give you the color and numbers on the pill you seek: []

    I hope this boy ends up being okay, though. Oxycodone is serious business and truthfully, I wouldn’t take it unless I was on my deathbed. I will pray for him.

  105. yashichi8bit says:

    Yeah I saw this on the news last night…its really sad.
    From the video I saw the boy appears completely and totally mentally damaged.

  106. gmoney says:

    Very sad indeed. But this could truly happen anywhere, it’s not a WalMart thing. In the past few years some of the most egregious medical errors on record have come out of the oh-so-esteemed Duke University Medical Center.

  107. @Red_Eye: Hospitals aren’t immune from making the same mistake. Dennis Quaid’s twins are a recent, high-profile example: []

    And why do you keep going back to the same pharmacist/pharmacy if they keep on making the same mistake?

  108. Alex Brewer says:

    Your wife was prescribed the hydrocodone for her cough because it is a powerful antitussive. Same reason as many prescription cough syrups contain codeine, another narcotic.

  109. DrJekyll says:

    @Cliff_Donner:A very perceptive comment. An insider will tell you there is a mistake response protocol for retail pharmacists that includes specific comments and behaviors all of which acknowledge the circumstance but do not admit blame nor accept responsibility. As for the 1.0mg being misread as 10mg, this was a multi-million dollar Walgreens mistake regarding Coumadin. Unfortunately, it comes in one and ten mg strengths. Hospital Rx orders can never include trailing zeros. It’s a JCAHO violation.

  110. varro says:

    @temporaryerror: Thanks for the clarification – I guess Wikipedia’s out of date.

  111. mwoeber says:

    Hopefully after reading this article’s comments I won’t catch any of you dropping off prescriptions at the pharmacy I work at and yelling at me when I tell you our wait time is a (very reasonable) hour. Especially if it’s a refill. Even more especially if it’s a refill of a maintenance medication. Pharmacies go to bigger volume, lower prices, and faster service because that is what the demand is. I’m constantly being told X drug is cheaper somewhere else, or X pharmacy never makes them wait. It’s up to the pharmacist to make sure that the people around him/her don’t pressure him/her into working in a manner that is unsafe. Pharmacists have a very important job making sure everyone’s drugs are correct (because of this they are compensated well.) But of course, everyone makes mistakes.

    Having said that, this is a mistake that should not happen regardless. I feel bad for all parties involved.

  112. rynnassif says:

    As a former pharmacy tech, I’ve gotta take umbrage with some of the comments directed at pharmacy technicians. In the back of your pharmacy, no matter if it’s Walmart or the corner drug store, you have three different classes of people working. You have your pharmacy cashiers, who are not very well trained as far as drugs go but know everything there is to know about privacy laws, etc. as well as insurance – they simply ring up your “purchase.”

    The second tier is your pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy techs are almost without fail certified, in most cases by a group called the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. I can say from personal experience that the exam that they put out for certification is by no means a cake walk – you definitely need to know your stuff in order to pass it. For an hourly job, they’re paid surprisingly well. I worked at Walgreens and as a tech I got paid in the range of $10-$12 an hour.

    The third, top tier is, of course, your pharmacists. They have a substantial amount of training and schooling. Are they perfect? No, of course not. But they don’t make “reckless” mistakes like some commenters have suggested. Also, EVERYTHING that a pharmacy tech does is double checked by a pharmacist, and pharmacists double-check their own work. They’re not simply churning out ‘scrips with no regard for anyone else, they’re being as careful as they can. Unfortunately, mistakes happen.

  113. brian25 says:

    While Pharmacists are supposed to check everything, they don’t fill all prescriptions. Depending on the State, you don’t even need a certification to be a pharmacy technician. It is likely a young, equally aged pharmacy technician filled the prescription incorrectly. I was a pharm tech at 18 and had no training. I almost made the equal mistake once but it was caught by the pharmacist. What makes it worse is doctors hand writing is horrible. So mistakes occur in medicine that has similar sounding names.

  114. SuperSally says:

    @JackWalker: I think a lot of people here are confusing Oxycodone with Oxycontin aka hillbilly heroin.

    And, just for the record for everyone else, all painkillers are not created equal, nor are they all dispensed at “Confessions of an Opium Eater” levels. And they work differently, as well. Take for example my blood cancer. You can’t take NSAIDs b/c of the risk of thrombocytopenia (way to few platelets leading to severe bleeding) so they prescribe you opioids. Well opioids don’t do half a good damn, because the pain is in your joints from what-the-hell-ever. Mostly I would just forget that I was hurting after taking my Percocet, but as far as actually relieving the pain, I needed the NSAIDs, and would occasionally break down and take a freaking Ibuprofen just to get some relief. Obviously this kid needed something different.

  115. tnycatgirl says:

    This is a disturbing trend in the pharmaceutical industry. These super chains, Walmart, Walgreens, Duane Reade, etc., are cutting costs by cutting the quality of care for customers. I miss the days of the small pharmacies that gave personal care, and true compassion for the people who dispensed pescriptions to. Now, we’re usually at the mercy of some young kid who doesnt know jack about any side effects, interactions, or instructions on these strong medications.

  116. SharadaThyestes says:

    While traveling this spring, I had a throat so sore that I ended up
    in a NJ ER at 6 AM on Easter Sunday. And I don’t go to the ER. Ever.
    I couldn’t talk, or swallow, and basically was drooling into a towel.
    So yeh, Strep can hurt pretty bad. 1000 mg of Motrin and a bottle of
    throat wash barely made a dent in the pain. On another note, my heart
    goes out to this child.


  117. SharadaThyestes says:

    While traveling this spring, I had a throat so sore I ended up in a
    NJ ER at 6 AM on Easter Sunday. And I don’t go to the ER. Ever. I
    couldn’t talk, or swallow, and basically was drooling into a towel.
    So yeh, Strep can hurt pretty bad. 1000 mg of Motrin and a bottle of
    throat wash barely made a dent in the pain. On another note, my heart
    goes out to this young man and his family.

  118. rynnassif says:

    @brian25: Utah’s different though. You do have to be certified – more so than most other states, follow the link – to be a pharmacy technician. And I’m aware of absolutely no state, city, locality, etc. that will allow a pharmacy tech to dispense drugs completely by his or herself without first being checked by a pharmacist. This is a Walmart… say what you will about them, but they’re not stupid enough to not have their own rules and regulations, even if Utah didn’t, to cover their asses in this regard.

  119. slp says:

    Why on earth would a doctor prescribe a schedule 2 controlled substance for strep throat? Yes, Vicodin syrup -no to Tussionex unless you have a terrible cough, and I can think of no reason at all to prescribe this drug.

    There is no excuse for a screw up of this magnitude, but don’t put the blame on the tech. He or she did not compound it. This was dispensed by a licensed pharmacist who was careless and did not notice that it should have been diluted. That is what the final check is there for. I am amazed that a retail pharmacy would have this in the first place. I can only find stuff like this at outpatient hospital pharmacies and compounding shops.

    I worked at a Wal-Mart pharmacy for 9 months but it was so painful working there I quit. We were always understaffed because they cut the tech hours. However, we had 2 pharmacists on duty at all times. Both of them checked each prescription to ensure accuracy.

    This is so sad and I feel terrible for the family and the guy.

  120. Snullbug says:

    @blzbob: “In this case the mistake is minor.” Try telling that to the family. There are some professions where there should be zero tolerance for mistakes. Do you want the aircraft mechanic to make “minor mistakes” on the next flight you take? Do you want your heart surgeon to make a “minor mistake” during your bypass surgery?

  121. some_stupid_nut says:

    @tnycatgirl: I’m a pharm tech, and let me tell you, most people don’t want “personal care”. The only thing people care about is speed. They want their meds and they want out.

    I’m in the suburbs of DC and we fill over 250 prescriptions on a “slow” day. With only 1 pharmacists and at most 4 techs or associates (associates do all the techs do here but enter prescriptions) it gets very hectic. You have customers yelling at you to hurry up and get angry when you tell them to wait. Not only that but we have to deal with phone calls to and from doctors, patients, insurance companies, and sometimes the manufacturer/distributor of the drug.

    There is always a line and sometimes the line is filled with crazies who are just looking for an argument and cuss at you and the pharmacist. You even have those people who don’t want to pay and will throw stuff at you.

    I would assume at any store nothing leaves the pharmacy until the pharmacists checks things over.

    What I’ve noticed is the best customers are the ones who work in the medical field themselves. Not saying the mistake is right but they do happen. Even people who are as trained as a pharmacist.

    And where do all you techs make so much?!?!?!

    – undergrad bio student who wants to get into pharmacy school someday

  122. brian25 says:

    @rynnassif: Like I said it varies State to State.. in Florida it all has to be checked by a Pharmacist. But they are very busy and the system only works right when it is checked at all levels… to include experienced tech’s and pharmacists. If your tech’s aren’t trained (which they very well could be) then they are more prone to mistakes.

  123. blzbob says:

    @Snullbug: I think you missed the rest of my comment where I mention that the consequences are not minor. The mistake was a simple misreading. We don’t know why it was misread. There are any number of reasons. We’ve all misread something. The mistake is minor, which means the mistake can easily be addressed and fixed. The consequences of that mistake are dire. That family is dealing with something that I hope no other family will ever go though. Walmart is fully responsible as is the pharmacist. Right now, I’m willing to bet that pharmacist is wondering if he or she is going to keep his or her license.

  124. blzbob says:

    @some_stupid_nut: I work in Washington State. I currently make more than $17 and I am not PTCB certified yet. Once I get that, I get another buck raise. I am also working on creating a team lead position so I can be the Senior Pharmacy Technician which comes with an additional $3. When all is said and done, within the next year I should be making just about $23/hr including my anticipated annual raise. Note that we have a high cost of living though.

  125. GeraldLolzordz says:

    Walphar gave me some guy’s heavy-duty blood pressure medicine instead of the antidote my DR prescribed me for anaphylactic shock in March 2004. Both our names started with “W”, so they swapped the bottles when they put them in the pharmacy paper sacks. The name on the sack was correct, but I had his meds and I guess he got mine. I slept for hours longer than I normally sleep after taking his meds, and I guess I’m lucky I woke up! The next time I was supposed to take the medicine, I actually read the label, and realized it was some other name on the bottle. I took it back to Walmart, and they said they were sorry, that they’re supposed to check the prescription (3) times to prevent mix-ups, but somehow they were switched anyway. The head pharmacist gave me a $5.00 gift card with her apology. They are lucky I was gracious about it, because I could have sued them for that. If I hadn’t woken up, or suffered any lasting effects, or death, I’m sure my husband would have sued them. But I was ok, just felt tired for a couple of days, so I blew it off. I’ve been a customer of theirs for over 20 years, and personally know the pharmacists who work there. I know we’re all human and make mistakes, so I was willing to forgive and understand. I don’t blame this young man’s family if they sue. They nearly lost him, and he may suffer permanent affects because of their mistake.

  126. pharmtech87 says:

    As a pharmacy technician at a Wal Mart store, I must say that this is completely unacceptable and the only one to be blamed is the pharmacist who visually verified the medication Sometimes we don’t mix suspensions until the customer picks it up so when they yell at us about they’re insurance not covering it and throw it at us, it won’t have to be wasted and thrown away. However, this medication that Jessie took was a CII and it is illegal for technicians to dispense CII perscriptions soooo blaming technicians and calling them stupid really makes a lot of sense.. Oh wait, it doesn’t. Also, just because this was at a Wal Mart doesn’t mean they gave Billy Joe who usually works in the garden center a promotion to pharmacist status. They have to go to college for an average of 5 years and be licensed by the State Board of Pharmacy. Maybe if you people wouldn’t expect us to wave our magic wand and automatically, input, four point, screw around with your 500 insurance plans, fill, and visually verify your perscription; all the while having the phones ring off the hook while taking care of other customers (yes! you aren’t the only one we’re filling for!)–there would be less rushing and therefor less error. HOWEVER, errors are still NOT acceptable and you would think thatwith all the laws and precautions behind dispensing a CII, the pharmacist would have been more careful. Wal Mart better pay up!

  127. Anonymous says:

    I’m stationed at Fort Campbell KY, and 2 weeks ago wal-mart filled a med for my child that was supose to be only 2mgs 2times a day. I ended up getting 20mgs 2 times a day for a 7 year old. that he ended up in the hospital were he is still at…

    My thoughts go out to jessie,
    from sad mom