*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
When we get our prescriptions filled at the local pharmacy, we expect to get what the doctor prescribed. Sure, sometimes we might get a generic medication instead of a name brand, with the doctor's approval, of course. But we don't expect anything too different from what the doctor ordered.
That's why my mother was shocked when the pharmacist accepted a prescription for non-opioid pain medication and substituted baby aspirin in its place.
My mother's doctor had written a prescription for meloxicam; the pharmacist gave her a bottle of baby aspirin. It wasn't a new prescription. My mother had been receiving meloxicam at the same pharmacy for years without incident.
The pharmacy didn't have meloxicam in stock, so he gave her a bottle of baby aspirin without asking her or consulting her doctor. Is that a thing? He didn't give her a bottle of over-the-counter baby aspirin, but a prescription bottle with its own little label.
When my mother came home and saw the baby aspirin, she was shocked and dismayed. And irritated. Mostly irritated.
"I called the pharmacy to ask why I had received baby aspirin instead of meloxicam, and the pharmacist said it was close enough," my mother told me. "He wrote on the bottle to take one every three to four hours, and he said medication for arthritis is mostly aspirin anyway."
She asked him whether he had cleared the exchange with her doctor. To her surprise, he told her he had not.
When my mother seemed unhappy with his answer, the pharmacist offered to refill her meloxicam and call my mother as soon as he had it in stock. My mother agreed.
The pharmacist called her the next day. He had the medication.
My mother picked it up and went home, relieved that she didn't have to worry about taking the wrong medication any longer, but the incident left her with an important lesson: Never take a pharmacist's word when it comes to medications. Always check with your doctor before taking any new prescription or over-the-counter medication.
No matter how small the change, it's always best to be sure. It could mean the difference between feeling better and having a bad reaction. Fortunately, nothing bad happened.
My mother didn't call her doctor, but she didn't take the baby aspirin either... except for the once-daily tablet, she was already taking per her doctor's orders for her heart.
After this experience, she began double-checking every medication she got from the pharmacy before leaving the store. If she has any questions or sees any discrepancies, she's not afraid to ask.
What would you have done? Comments are welcome.
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