Woman injured after mistakenly being given erectile dysfunction cream for eye condition

A woman ended up in A&E after she was prescribed erectile dysfunction cream to treat a dry eye by mistake.

The mix-up occurred when the woman-from the British city of Glasgow-went to collect a prescription for VitA-POS, a liquid paraffin lubrication used to treat severe dry eyes and corneal erosions, the BBC explained. The freakish case was detailed in the December issue of the British Medical Journal's Case Reports, which called for doctors to improve their handwriting to avoid similar incidents.

One suggested remedy is the use of block capitals in handwritten prescriptions to avoid similar situations, the Optometry Today professional journal reports. However, following the incident, the unnamed woman required treatment with injections, eye drops and lubricants to help protect her.

The mix-up happened between her GP and pharmacist, where she was issued with Vitaros, an erectile dysfunction cream.

She was given antibiotics, lubricants and steroids after she suffered blurred vision and lid swelling as a result of using the wrong cream.

The error has led specialists from Glasgow's Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology to call for doctors to take greater care issuing medication.

Dr Magdalena Edington wrote in a report for the BMJ in December: 'Prescribing errors are common, and medications with similar names/packaging increase risk.

"However, it is unusual in this case that no individual (including the patient, general practitioner or dispensing pharmacist) questioned erectile dysfunction cream being prescribed to a female patient, with ocular application instructions".

The mild chemical injury to her eye was treated in hospital with topical antibiotics, steroids and lubricants, which cleared it up in a few days.

She wants to raise awareness that medications with similar spellings exist and encourage prescribers "to ensure that handwritten prescriptions are printed in block capital letters (including the hyphen with VitA-POS) to avoid similar scenarios in the future".

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