Finding errors in medication is nothing new but what is new is finding out that this can also be true for your pet. The FDA just issued a warning to pet owners that these errors can have the same deadly consequences.
Pet owners like Sarah Schuck know first-hand the tragic results of giving either the wrong type or amount of medication to a four-legged member of the family.
All she has left of her beloved eight-year-old Labrador, Rafter, is a collar, pictures, and fond memories.
"It was really hard."
Losing a pet to the overdose of medication is especially hard when you think that you're walking the path toward better health and in the mindset of remedying a problem, not creating a bigger one.
In Sarah's case the drug store labeled the bottle with the wrong dosage and instructed her to give her Rafter ‘two and one fourth teaspoons' instead of the correct prescription of ‘two and one fourth cc's.'
The overdose, combined with Rafter's health problems proved to be more than he could handle, forcing her to have him put to sleep.
"It was a tough realization."
The FDA warning came just days after Rafter's death.
FDA investigators discovered errors stemming from simple issues like look-alike packaging, drugs with similar names and simple penmanship errors.
Veterinarian, Dr. Howard Silberman says, "The consequences can be completely devastating."
There are ways to help prevent this from happening and Dr. Silberman takes those precautions. In his office all medications and dosages are typed to avoid issues with poor penmanship. Only vets or vet technicians fill prescriptions and pet's pictures are printed on the label as an added measure so that there are no mix ups.
Dr. Silberman goes on to say, "We do a tremendous amount to make sure that those things don't happen."
One obvious cause of mishaps is when pet prescriptions are filled in human pharmacies. Like in Rafter's case, different systems may be to blame. Not to mention that abbreviations in veterinary schools have different meanings than those in medical school. This confusion can easily lead to deadly results.
Carmen Catizone of the National Association Boards of Pharmacy says, "Currently most of the pharmacy curriculums don't touch upon vet medicine."
It is highly advised by pharmacy insiders that pet owners do their research while shopping around for the lowest costs.
Catizone advises, "Their primary concern should always be whether or not that pharmacist is knowledgeable in the area of veterinary medications; price should be a secondary consideration."
The American Veterinary Medical Association says that one thing pet owners can do to minimize the chances of these types of things happening is to make sure the pharmacist speaks to your vet if there are any questions.
The FDA advises you should verify with your vet the name and dosage of your pet's drug and also found pet medication errors stemmed from pet owners misinterpreting labels and accidentally giving pets human drugs.
Sarah hopes Rafter's legacy lives on to help other pet owners avoid medication mistakes. She says "Don't be afraid to ask questions."
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