I have had many conversations with veterinarians recently over the $2.5M verdict in the trial over the poisoning deaths of 21 polo ponies. The horses died after receiving a supplement containing 100 times the Selenium prescribed by their veterinarian. Franck’s Lab, a compounding pharmacy, was found 85% guilty of negligence leading to the animals deaths and were charged with $2.5 million in restitution.
This tragedy could have been avoided. What we can learn from this terrible event is that you must choose the correct pharmacy team, communicate your prescriptions properly, and understand that veterinarians and pharmacists are working towards the same goals.
Let’s go over the steps to building a tragedy prevention process with your pharmaceutical team.
Write Prescriptions Through a Quality Assured Compounding Pharmacy Team
You can ensure your patients’ safety—as well as your own liability—by thoroughly researching your prospective compounding pharmacy. As you research, you’ll want to verify that:
- The pharmacy is licensed in your state
- The pharmacy is insured for the scope of pharmacy that is being practiced
- The pharmacy is accredited for the type of compounding that is being performed
After you verify that your sterile compounds are accredited, be sure to document your verification. You’ll want to put a process into place that requires documentation of these verification steps on a quarterly basis. Checking often will ensure that you don’t miss a change of ownership, policy, or personnel on the pharmacy’s side that could negatively affect the quality of your compounded medications.
Instate Clear Communication
To combat misunderstandings caused by poor communication, veterinarian prescribers should type their prescriptions and then fax or e-scribe them to the pharmacy. This prevents accusations of error by messy handwriting. Include an annotation about why you have prescribed the medication and what condition you are trying to treat to avoid look-alike, sound-alike errors.
Always be sure to document the prescription within the medical record itself—this is the first place that lawyers look in case of a lawsuit.
You’re a Team—Focus on Helping Your Animal Patients
The fact that veterinarians treat animals ranging in size from ounces to tons means that we more often than not find ourselves in the realm of art when it comes to prescription and treatment. Veterinary pharmacists, when they help medicate these unique veterinary patients, also find themselves in the realm of art.
While artists document their art with paintings or sculptures, we must remember to always document our art within the medical record. Remember that we’re all on the same team, and with communication and documentation, we can help heal our patients together.
In hindsight this tragedy could have been prevented. Be sure to protect your ability to practice by choosing the right partner pharmacy team to help your patients and document each step of the way.
Take a step towards tragedy prevention by partnering with one reliable pharmacy team, like EPC. EPC has been in business since 1948, and we uphold a legacy of excellence. We pride ourselves on being the safest by design, and never sacrificing quality for profits.