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    The stroke that shouldn't have been

    The story of Molly's mom

    Ken BakerKen BakerMolly’s mom had a stroke. The stroke was followed by hospitalization and weeks of rehabilitation — all because Molly’s mother had a stroke. Molly’s mom did not have to have a stroke. It could have been prevented, if she had taken her blood pressure medication as prescribed.

    See also: Can pharmacists be sued for doing their jobs?

    The story of Molly’s mom

    Molly’s mother, a widow, had extremely high blood pressure. Her physician prescribed one of the newer medications, which did reduce Molly’s mom’s hypertension, but it was expensive. It was not covered by her insurance.

    The prescription was written for 30 tablets, with the directions to take one a day. Molly’s mother lived on a very limited income. The cost of the medication meant that she often had to choose between buying food and filling her prescription.

    Molly’s mom did not tell Molly, her physician, or her pharmacist that she could not afford this medication. To save money, Molly’s mom began taking her medicine every other day. Later it became every third day.

    When she wasn’t taking a pill every day, no one said anything. As a matter of fact, no one appeared to notice at all.

    A few months after she began reducing the dosage of her medication for high blood pressure, Molly’s mom had a stroke. It was relatively minor, but she was hospitalized for several days and that was followed by weeks in rehabilitation.

    The hospitalization and rehabilitation were paid for by the insurance company that would not pay for the medication that could have prevented the need for both.


    Image of woman in wheelchair with therapist

    See also: The importance of the pharmacist in everyday practice

    Did it have to happen?

    Could anyone have intervened and prevented Molly’s mom from having a stroke? Maybe Molly, maybe the physician, and maybe the pharmacist and pharmacy’s technician.

    Since we are pharmacists and technicians, let’s look to the pharmacist and pharmacy technician for an answer to the question.

    The pharmacy code of ethics says, “A pharmacist [pharmacy technician] promotes the good of every patient in a caring, compassionate, and confidential manner.”

    The law of every state says, “The pharmacist shall perform a prospective drug review prior to dispensing any prescription.” It does not say, “prior to dispensing only a new prescription.”

    Kenneth R. Baker, BS Pharm, JD
    These articles are not intended as legal advice and should not be used as such. When a legal question arises, the pharmacist should ...

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