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Woman recovering from tooth removal given dangerous, mind-altering drugs after pharmacists swap antidepressants for painkillers

Medical errors

(NaturalNews) A 32-year-old woman unexpectedly found herself taking mind-altering drugs after a mix-up at the pharmacy following a routine dental procedure.

After having her wisdom teeth removed, the New Zealand woman filled a prescription for 30, 50mg capsules of Tramadol, a painkiller. A week later, however, she discovered that she had actually been taking 20mg capsules of fluoxetine, an antidepressant that is also branded as Prozac.

As if it isn't bad enough that these pills were probably doing very little to alleviate her pain, they are also extremely dangerous in their own right.

Fluoxetine can cause a number of possible side effects, such as abnormal heartbeat, seizures, nausea, diarrhea, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, drowsiness, insomnia and rashes. However, it's the increased suicide risk that is the most concerning of all.

In fact, antidepressant manufacturers in the U.S. must use black-box warnings on these meds outlining the increased risk of suicidal behavior and thoughts they cause.

It's not just the patient's own life that is at risk; many of the mass shooters that have made headlines over the past few years have been under the influence of some type of antidepressant at the time of the incident.

Stopping antidepressants abruptly could make things worse

After hearing all of the things that can go wrong when you take antidepressants, you might think the woman should have stopped taking the pills right away after discovering the mistake. However, that could actually have made the situation even worse. Users can become dependent on the drugs, which means that stopping them suddenly can lead to withdrawal symptoms including dizziness, lethargy, headache and nausea. Therefore, patients must normally wean themselves off the medication slowly under the care of a doctor.

It's hard to imagine how such a serious mistake could occur. An investigation found that the fluoxetine capsules had actually been repackaged in the pharmacy and placed in a white box, where they were then mislabeled as tramadol.

An investigation revealed that the pharmacist was distracted while doing the labeling and failed to check the contents, which was a direct violation of the pharmacy's standard operating procedures. A second pharmacist also checked the package and did not notice the mistake. The two medications have very similar packaging, and the second pharmacist did not go to the trouble of removing the pills from their packaging to carry out a more thorough verification.

New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill placed the blame squarely on the pharmacists, saying that the pharmacy's standard operating procedures were sound. The pharmacists apologized to the woman, and authorities recommended that the pharmacy carry out random audits during a one-month period. That hardly seems like an effective way to ensure such a mistake doesn't happen again.

Medical errors more common than most people think

If you think that a mistake like the one that occurred in New Zealand can't happen here, think again. It is estimated that 1.6 million Americans have been killed by medical errors since the year 2000, making it the third leading cause of death in the country.

According to the Pharma Death Clock, a further 64,646 deaths have been caused by antidepressant overdoses in the same time period. If the woman who was mistakenly given fluoxetine had also already been taking the drug or another type of antidepressant, this story could have ended very differently.

The pain associated with dental procedures is no joke, and it's understandable that the woman in question was seeking painkillers to deal with it. However, those who are more skeptical of medical intervention can try alternative methods of coping with pain first to see if they help, whether it's meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, exercise or spending more time in nature.

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