Military Pharmacy Gives Heart Med Instead Of Vitamin

5:10 PM, May 8, 2013   |    comments
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KING GEORGE, Va. (WUSA9) -- US Senator from Virginia is demanding answers after another medical mix-up at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

Mark Warner wants to know why a Virginia woman was sent home with a powerful and potentially deadly heart drug -- instead of the vitamin shots she was supposed to get.

Christiane Wiggins was shaken when her son opened the package of medicine dispensed from a Walter Reed clinic at Dahlgren Navy Base. "My brain went. I was sick to my stomach," says Wiggins. 

"It was labeled B-12 on the bag, labeled as B-12 on the package insert, on the printed label on the bottle," says her son Chris.

But when he pulled out the vials, what he found inside was atropine, a potent drug used to help resuscitate heart patients. "And he said 'Mom, if I gave you this injection, it might kill you,'" remembers Wiggins.

Sandy Dean, a spokeswoman for Walter Reed admits this was a mistake. She calls it an isolated incident, and says pharmacists are being re-educated and the investigation continuing. But she says 13 other patients who were supposed to be dispensed B-12 around that time got B-12.

It's not the first time. Two years ago, pharmacists at Walter Reed gave toddler Kendall Huen a nearly fatal overdose of a chemo drug. She's still recovering.

Chris Wiggins is trained as a cardiac tech and he says atropine never should have been sent home with any patient.

His mom is still suffering nightmares, can't sleep, and is afraid to take her other medications.

The Wiggins have gone public,  fearful that despite what Walter Reed says, the pharmacy might have dispensed the clear liquid atropine instead of the dark colored vial of B-12. 

Atropine is also used in eye drops, but it's much less concentrated.

Wiggins says the pharmacist should lose his license and his job. He is now pushing a new federal law to require medicines to have a special label if they should only be used in a hospital.

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