Base notifying thousands about prescription problem

Wright-Patterson officials will notify thousands of prescription drug recipients of a possible mix-up in medications after an automated process may have added the wrong pills to at least one prescription, according to base officials.

The mix-up apparently occurred at the Kitty Hawk Pharmacy, base officials said. Officials don't know how many prescriptions may have been impacted but officials said it was believed to be a small number. The pharmacy refills about 1,000 prescriptions per day.

As a precaution, base officials have stopped using an automated "robot" that refills prescriptions at the Kitty Hawk Pharmacy. They have asked anyone who had a prescription drug order refilled at Kitty Hawk between April 23 to April 29 to call a hotline or come in to have the medication doubled-checked for accuracy. Prescriptions are now being filled by hand, officials said.

"The goal one again is patient safety," Col. Cassie B. Barlow, 88th Air Base Wing commander at Wright-Patterson told reporters Wednesday."We are very concerned about our beneficiaries, and we want to make sure all of our beneficiaries are safe."

Barlow estimated roughly up to half a percent of the prescriptions refilled may have issues of the thousands that were filled at the Kitty Hawk Pharmacy.

"We believe just based on the number of total refills, and the number that we believe had issues, we believe the scope is very small but it will be a few days before we know for sure," she said.

The Wright-Patterson Medical Center pharmacy was not affected, and the concern is about refilled prescriptions only, base officials said.

The Air Force Medical Operations Agency and the base have launched an investigation that could take about a week to conclude, officials said.

"We're working very hard to understand what happened, and to understand the scope of the issue," Barlow said.

Base officials have asked all patients who had prescriptions filled during that time to bring them to the Wright-Patterson Medical Center information desk or the Kitty Hawk Pharmacy to check for accuracy and exchange them if needed. The information desk, located near the Medical Center's main entrance, is open from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Base spokesman Daryl Mayer said no one has reported any adverse reactions from the medicine refills. A patient called and told medical officials a prescription bottle had the wrong pills mixed in with other medication, he said.

It was not immediately known what type of medication it was and base officials have not said what kinds of medication may be impacted.

Pharmacy personnel were expected to contact prescription holders through phone messages.

"We are going to contact every single person that had a refill made at the Kitty Hawk Pharmacy during that time period," Barlow said.

The base also has sent emails, put a notice on its website and posted Facebook and Twitter messages, she said.

Prescription users may call 937-257-9022 between 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. with questions or concerns.

Greg Fiely, who co-owns IHS Pharmacy & Wellness Center, advises that patients who believe they may have been affected should first look at their medication to see if it's similar to what they regularly take.

If they have any doubt, they should call their pharmacy, and if they do not feel well, they need to visit their doctor, he said.

"A pharmacist never wants to fill prescriptions wrong," Fiely said. "I'm sure they (WPAFB) didn't want to fill them wrong. But the technology is only as good as the humans operating them. Human error always has to be taken into account."

IHS, which has locations in Xenia and Jamestown, upgraded to an Rx30 computer operating system about a year ago, Fiely said.

He said one prescription is scanned at least five times to check its accuracy before it's handed over to the patient. They fill about 400 prescriptions per day, Fiely said.

"It's helped us be as accurate as we can be," Fiely said. "There's always something that can happen, so the pharmacist always has to be vigilant. You don't want to be the one who makes a mistake, but some things get overlooked."

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