Eye drops or ear drops? Don't let
this common mix-up happen to you!
A patient put ear drops in her eye and experienced burning
and itching. Why did she do this? Because when she filled
her prescription for eye drops, the pharmacy dispensed ear
drops instead and labeled the drops as eye drops. This is
not too uncommon, unfortunately, for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes the physician's handwriting is so poor that the
pharmacist misreads the prescription. In this case, the pharmacy
technician prepared the prescription, and the pharmacist missed
the error when checking her work. As a patient, be aware that
this can happen. Double-check the label on the product--if
it says "otic," it's for the ear, and if it says "ophthalmic,"
it's for the eye. Ear drops NEVER go in the eye, but some
eye products can be used safely in the ear. Ask your pharmacist
when you fill an ear or eye drop prescription to counsel you
about the product to prevent this error from happening to
Institute for Safe Medication Practices