Letters to the Editor: Pharmacists are overworked and under-respected. No wonder errors happen

Photo illustration of two prescription bottles in a traffic accident
(Jim Cooke / Los Angeles Times; photos via Getty Images)

To the editor: As the mother of a recent doctor of pharmacy graduate, I have had the privilege of witnessing the eight years of college and two years of residency that followed. The pharmacists who care for us, the patients, are highly trained, yet they are not referred to as “doctor,” their professional title. (“California pharmacies are making millions of mistakes. They’re fighting to keep that secret,” Sept. 5)

And, as I discovered when my son was rotating through a chain pharmacy as part of his education, the demands of the job can be overwhelming.

With only him as a student pharmacist and one licensed pharmacist on duty, the entire operation had to be handled, including answering phones, serving drive-through customers, attending the counter and dispensing medication. Some drive-through customers would even add a soda and a candy bar to their order.


No wonder mistakes are made.

Patty Donnelly, Chino Hills


To the editor: The article on pharmacy errors really hit home.

I made mistakes during my career as a pharmacist and hopefully caught all of them. For the mistakes I identified, I would take back the wrong prescription and replace it with the correct one.

Before computers were used, it was more difficult to catch errors. Today, pharmacists use bar codes to fill the correct prescription, but when we make a mistake in the dosage and directions, it becomes additionally problematic.

In my 66 years serving as a licensed pharmacist, I would often have to call the physician to confirm a drug or clarify written directions. I found it interesting when the doctor would hesitate and say something like, “You know, I wanted this drug once a day, but make it twice a week.”

It made me think they were rushed and did not fully think about what was the best medication.


Barry Solomon, Redondo Beach


To the editor: The article on pharmacy errors shows yet another part of our healthcare system that is failing.

When I was 16, I got a job working at a pharmacy. Initially I restocked and organized shelves in the merchandise areas of the store. After a week, I was told to report to the pharmacist.

When I arrived, a long line of medicine bottles with labels was on a counter. I was instructed to read the label, find the medication, count the pills into the bottle, cap the bottle and place it in a tub for patient pickup. No one checked the prescriptions prior to distributing them to customers.

Some people caught errors and returned to the pharmacy to complain and receive their correct medications. But I still wonder how many unsuspecting customers may have been harmed.


Pam Leary, Newport Coast


To the editor: I always compare a new prescription refill to the old one. If not identical, I go to a pill identifier on the web. If still not certain, I call or go to the pharmacy.

Not all generics look alike. There are several varieties of omeprazole, for example, that don’t look alike.

Patrick Mauer, M.D., Pasadena