Problems with your pills

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Many of us rely on prescriptions, in fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, seven out of 10 Americans take at least one prescription medication. With those numbers, a mistake within your drug refill could be potentially deadly.

"Human error happens when someone bypasses the process in place," Boise pharmacist and pharmacy owner, Elaine Ladd, said.

Ladd knows people can make mistakes so at her pharmacy, she relies on procedure and technology to help keep her and her team on point.

"We scan the prescription bottle, we poor it on top of the machine and it actually takes an electronic picture and saves it," Ladd said as she explained a machine she uses at Ladd Pharmacy.

It's a procedure that lessens the chance of a mistake, but nothing can eliminate the possibility of an error. That's why it's so important that you pay attention. Every patient should know what their prescription looks like before they walk into the pharmacy.

"We're big on transparency. We thank customers when they come in and they are questioning their medication it looks a little different, we want that," Ladd said.

A mis-filled prescription can mean a few different things. It could mean the wrong label on a drug, the wrong dosage of a medication or the wrong drug all together.

"Medication errors are extremely dangerous. In some cases in other states, have led to serious complications and even death."

It's estimated 7,000 people die each year because of medication mistakes. That's why the executive director of the Idaho Board of Pharmacy, Mark Johnston, knows the board's role is especially important in our community. The board serves as the judge and jury for customer complaints.

"Mistakes are few and far between, but we do take them very seriously. We are administrative court if there is a mistake and we can impose discipline up to and including the revocation of a pharmacist's license," Mark Johnston said.

In the state of Idaho last year, the board issued only four orders for mis-filled prescriptions. This year there's already been one case. The mistake can mean a punishment that can range from ordering a pharmacist to take additional safely classes to license suspension.

"We've had no repeat mis-fill, or pharmacists who have been disciplined for multiple mis-fills in our state," Mark Johnston said.

The board of pharmacy can't do it alone. You need to pay close attention to medications and if something seems wrong, it's important to contact the board. The board legally has to investigate all reported problems. On top of investigating complaints, the board inspects and audits each pharmacy in the state. Johnston tells KBOI to the board, every error is a dangerous one. But with our state's lower number of mis-filled prescriptions, pharmacists like Elaine Ladd say they are thankful for the oversight.

"This is why I chose Idaho, Idaho is a great state to practice in," Ladd said.