FOX19 Investigates: Tri-state pet dies after pharmacy error - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

FOX19 Investigates: Tri-state pet dies after pharmacy error

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Rafter, killed by pharmacy error Rafter, killed by pharmacy error
Sarah Schuck of Miamiville Sarah Schuck of Miamiville

All Sarah Schuck has left of her beloved eight-year-old lab "Rafter" is his collar, pictures, and fond memories. The Clermont County woman blames her dog's death on a pharmacy error.

The label on the dog's prescription bottle said to give Rafter "two and one-fourth teaspoon" of the medicine. But the vet says the dosage he called into the pharmacy was for much less: "two and one-fourth CC's."

The overdose, combined with Rafter's health problems, was too much. Sarah says she had to put him to sleep.

"It was a tough realization," she said.

Just days after Rafter's death, the FDA issued a warning about a pattern of pet prescription mistakes. FDA investigators discovered errors stemming from simple issues like: look-alike packaging, drugs with similar names, and simple penmanship errors.

"The consequences can be completely devastating," said Dr. Howard Silberman, a veterinarian.

He takes prescription precautions at his office: all medications and dosages are typed into a computer, only vets and vet technicians fill prescriptions, and pets' pictures are printed on the label so there aren't any mix-ups.

"We do a tremendous amount to make sure that those things don't happen," he said.

The FDA says while mistakes happen at vet-based pharmacies, when pet prescriptions are filled in "human pharmacies" --- like in Rafter's case --- different systems may be to blame. There are sometimes abbreviation errors because prescription shorthand taught in veterinary schools is different than in medical schools. So some pharmacists may not be as familiar with vet abbreviations.

"Currently most of the pharmacy curriculums don't touch upon vet medicine," said Carmen Catizone of the National Association Boards of Pharmacy.

FDA investigators also found pet medication errors stemmed from pet owners misinterpreting labels and accidentally giving pets human drugs.

To avoid a pet prescription mix-up, the American Veterinary Medical Association says communication is key. Make sure the pharmacist speaks to your vet if there are any questions. Meanwhile, the FDA advises you to verify the name and dosage of your pet's drug.

Sarah says she hopes Rafter's legacy lives on to help other pet owners avoid medication mistakes.

"Don't be afraid to ask questions," she said.

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