A woman from Glasgow was prescribed erectile dysfunction cream by her pharmacist in error after attending her GP complaining of a dry eye condition. The woman was meant to receive an eye lubricant called VitA-POS but due to unclear handwriting on a prescription, was given Vitaros, an erectile dysfunction cream, instead.

The woman suffered a mild chemical injury and had to be treated in hospital with antibiotics, steroids and lubricants.

Dr Magdalena Edington, who wrote the case report for the BMJ, along with her colleagues Julie Connolly and David Lockington, said they wanted to highlight the need for greater care in issuing medicines and called for handwritten prescriptions to be written in block capital letters in future to avoid confusion.

A US case reported in 1995 highlighted the seriousness of misinterpreting handwritten prescriptions: A patient who was meant to be prescribed ‘Isordil’ to treat their chest pain, received a prescription for ‘Plendil’ which was used to treat high blood pressure. The patient suffered complications and later died.

Data collected by Manchester, York and Sheffield Universities and published in a BBC article in February 2018 noted that around 237 million medication errors are made each year in England and at least 700 deaths are caused by those errors, with another 22,300 more deaths likely to be related to prescription errors.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, commented:

“Most GPs now use digital systems to ensure that the right medication is prescribed…[and] these systems have substantially reduced the likelihood of prescribing errors - but it is still important to maintain open and rapid channels of communication between GPs and pharmacists.”

Freeths solicitors have considerable experience with clinical negligence claims including negligent treatment provided by GPs. If you are concerned about care which you or a loved one have received, please contact a member of our national team for a free, informal discussion;

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) 0186 578 1019 carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham) on 0845 274 6830 karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724 jane.williams@freeths.co.uk

For further information please also visit our website at: http://www.freeths.co.uk/legal-services/individuals/clinical-negligence/