The Hospital Could Have Killed My Toddler

by stacie on April 2, 2021

Sounds dramatic, no? But it’s true.

Last fall, we rushed our then 18-month-old to the emergency room for a gash on her face … one that required stitches and an antibiotic prescription.

Five hours after we got there, we left with six stitches and a slip of paper. We also started walking out while she still had an IV in her arm, because they told us we were good to go. A nurse had to chase us down and bring us back in because we hadn’t even noticed the tiny little catheter stuck in her hand.

Needless to say, we were tired—physically and emotionally—and just wanted to get home.

The next day I went to the pharmacy to fill her prescription. I dropped it off and decided I’d wait. Thankfully, the pharmacist (sort of) knows us because she asked me what happened to my son, Michah.

I was confused and it took us a few minutes to figure out that the prescription I brought in was for an adult male named Michah … who apparently needed heavy narcotics.

Now, granted, we would have figured it out when we read the prescription bottle, but we should not have ever been given that prescription in the first place.

And guess what? We never even got a call back from the hospital’s emergency room.

When I complained to our pediatrician, she was horrified but admitted it happens more often that we know. And this is at the hospital she’s affiliated with!

So, as a parent, I beg of you: always check your child’s prescriptions (and your own), whether you walk out of the hospital, your child is receiving treatment in the hospital, or you’re just leaving the pharmacy. When I did some digging, I found out that approximately 1.5 million errors occur annually in regard to hospitals and prescriptions … and the average pharmacy incorrectly fills approximately 4 out of 250 prescriptions each day.

photo credit: target pharmacy

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm April 2, 2021 at 5:21 am

Oh yikes, that is SO scary! Glad that you have a pharmacist that hypervigilant!

Kari April 2, 2021 at 5:51 am

Good advice! That is so scary and I’m glad the mistake was discovered in time. It’s always a worry in the back of my mind when I get a prescription filled.

Adventures In Babywearing April 2, 2021 at 7:19 am

Oh how frightening.


cgm April 2, 2021 at 12:46 pm

Very glad that your pharmacist caught that before you left and had to go back. Everyone should consider this, not just in regards to your children, but think of yourself and elderly relatives as well.

I work in a safety field and constantly hear stories about how people have made simple mistakes that cost others greatly. Because of this, I double check everything. I also get to train people, so I overemphasize that “You are your biggest safety promoter. Other people should be looking out for you, but no one is perfect, so you need to look out for yourself.”

Medical care specialists are overburdened by so many things (frequently bureaucratic baloney) that they make mistakes. We all make mistakes, unfortunately the ones they make can be more costly.

My grandmother was in the hospital for hip replacement surgery and her charts clearly said “No Codeine.” With that explicitly written on the chart, what do you think they gave her when she got out of surgery? Thankfully my aunt was there to say something, but not before my grandmother got ill.

It might take a few extra minutes, but ask the doctor what they are prescribing you, how much, and how frequently to take it. Then confirm it with what is on the prescription bottle. Additionally, check that the pill in the bottle is correct by either searching Google for “What does name-of-medicine look like” or going to a website where you can check pill information - like WebMD’s pill checker:

I refuse to take medication unless I absolutely need it because I’m terrified that someone in the chain of communication may have screwed up my prescription. But, when I do take it, I make sure to take every last pill (and not just stop when I feel better).

Angela April 2, 2021 at 7:58 pm

Something very similar happened to us except we didn’t catch the mistake until two weeks later!! Our doctor or her nurse wrote a prescription with a dosage 5 TIMES the amount our baby should have received. The pharmacy, who is supposed to double check these things, didn’t catch the mistake! Thank goodness my sister made a comment that her baby never took that much of the same medication, and it got us to look into it and ask the doctor. Neither the pharmacy nor the doctor apologized for their error. We switched doctors and pharmacies. And now we always TRIPLE check any medication.

Thankfully, the medication that was being overdosed was actually one that was so mild (even at 5x the dose) it didn’t do any long-term damage. Our child may have been having side effects such as headaches and trouble sleeping from the overdose, but nothing worse than that. Needless to say, we were still EXTREMELY upset and will never take medications blindly again. EVERY PARENT should do the same!

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