A WOMAN living with chronic heart failure has told how a Glasgow pharmacy made a series of errors with crucial medication she relies on to keep her alive. 

Michelle Antosik also told how on one occasion she was given powerful anti-psychotic pills that she has never been prescribed instead of hay fever tablets.

She and her partner Alex O’Kane today blasted bosses at M&D Green Pharmacy for four mistakes at the Westray Road branch during the last three months.

Michelle was left in excruciating pain after almost three days passed without her realising that her heart medication, Imdur, had been omitted from the dosette box delivered weekly to her home by the chemist.

The 61-year-old, who takes 30 pills each day to manage a variety of health conditions that include a rare lung disease and Type 2 diabetes, explained how her confidence has been destroyed by the errors.

The couple, from Milton, have spoken exclusively to the Glasgow Times in a bid to encourage others to check the accuracy of the medication dispensed to them to avoid ending up in the same jeopardy as Michelle.

Glasgow Times: Michelle Antosik Michelle Antosik (Image: Colin Mearns, Newsquest)

She said: “I’ve been using this pharmacy for nearly two decades without any problems, but something has clearly gone wrong recently. This string of serious failings could have cost me my life.

“I rely on Imdur to keep my arteries open and to stop me from having another heart attack. I just assumed that that all the correct tablets would be in the dosette box, as the whole point of it is to make life easier for people juggling several types of medication daily.

“I knew something was seriously wrong when I started to experience awful pain in my chest and arm. That’s when I checked the box and realised that Imdur had been missed.”

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Michelle explained how pharmacy staff carried out a series of blunders just weeks apart.

She said: “After this happened another delivery came with all of my diabetic medication left out. That's 14 Metformin pills completely missing from a sealed box and on another occasion I was given pills over the counter at the pharmacy to treat psychosis, which I’ve never been prescribed, instead of the hay fever tablets I had popped in to collect. Fortunately, I noticed they looked different before taking any, but I dread to think what impact they could have had on my health.

"On another occasion I received another dosette box and subsequently noticed that at least one Imdur 60mg was missing. I had been experiencing more chest pains and heart episodes that week and had to use my  angina spray more than usual. 

“In all there were four mistakes within a 12-week period, which is simply not good enough. Each time we complained to staff at the pharmacy we were asked to accept an apology without a full explanation or told to go somewhere else.”

Glasgow Times: Michelle Antosik and partner Alex O'KaneMichelle Antosik and partner Alex O'Kane (Image: Colin Mearns, Newsquest)

Community activist Alex, 58, added: “Given Michelle’s recent diagnosis of heart failure, I honestly thought this could be the end for her.

“I watched as she experienced crippling pain and thought she was having another heart attack. She was begging me not to call for an ambulance as she'd been in hospital weeks ago and didn't want to go back. Her GNT angina spray kept her alive throughout this and thankfully Michelle had the presence of mind to consider the possibility of missing medication.

“This is something we initially didn’t think of as you place your confidence in the professionals at the pharmacy.

“We will never fully trust a dosette box again and Michelle now feels that she is the last line of defence when it comes to checking her medication. The trust is gone, she now has to triple check every single tablet before she will take it.

“We are speaking out because we want to raise awareness that these mistakes can happen, don’t just assume that what is in your box is right - this is a hard lesson that we’ve had to learn.”

Glasgow Times: M&D Green Westray Pharmacy M&D Green Westray Pharmacy (Image: Colin Mearns, Newsquest)

Michelle, who suffered a massive cardiac arrest in 1995 aged just 34 and was brought back to life using a defibrillator, has campaigned over three decades to raise awareness of heart problems in younger women.

She was given the devastating diagnosis last year that her heart is now failing and has been told that she’s not suitable for a transplant due to other complex medical issues. She’s now focused on spending time with her family and creating precious memories with Alex.

Michelle adds: “It’s a lot to take in, especially knowing that there’s no cure. That’s why my medication is so important, it will keep my heart stable for as long as that’s possible.

Glasgow Times:

“Right now, I just want to make the most of every day and I’m determined to live life to the full. Alex is an incredible support; I don’t know how I would cope without him. We don’t take anything for granted and focus on the time we have left together.”

SNP MSP Bob Doris has also raised concerns over the errors and is planning to meet with bosses at the pharmacy to discuss the steps that have be taken to avoid a repeat.

He said: “It is of course deeply concerning that my constituent was impacted by four dispensing errors. The potential dangers of such errors are self-evident.

“I have contacted the company regarding this matter and sought various reassurances on behalf of my constituents. The company has provided some welcome information over the systems they have in place and on how they aim to ensure no further errors, however there remains some matters I feel are important to pursue. The company has agreed to meet me to discuss these further.

“More generally I am confident that the community pharmacy network is well run. That said it is only right I ask NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, who contract community pharmacies, for details of how they work to resolve concerns where and when they arrive.”

A spokesperson for M&D Green Group apologised for the errors and says action has been taken to improve standards within the branch.

The Glasgow Times understands that a full investigation has been carried out by the company. 

They added: “We take these incidents very seriously and have been in touch with those concerned to apologise. We have outlined the steps we have taken to prevent this from happening again.

“We take the safety of all our patients seriously and have robust procedures in place to ensure patient safety is always maintained. As a result of the errors raised with us, we have reviewed our procedures to ensure that they meet our standards. We have also commenced further training and moved more experienced staff from other branches to support the team at Westray.

“On top of this there will be additional unannounced visits from senior management to conduct checks and make sure proper processes are being adhered to at all times.

“All of this has been communicated, and while the couple have not yet indicated that they are satisfied with the outcome of our investigation, they have stated that they wish to continue using the pharmacy.

“We apologise for any distress caused to them and understand their disappointment. We recognise the importance of delivering the best quality care to all our patients and will work to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”