Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog

Earlier last month in Oklahoma City, a man was admitted to the hospital after taking another person’s medication that he was given at a local CVS Pharmacy. According to a report by one local news source, the man had just gotten his wisdom teeth taken out and was prescribed antibiotics and a strong dose of Ibuprofen. However, when he went to get the prescription filled, he was given someone else’s medication.

perscription-drug-case-1156714-mEvidently, after taking the wrong medicine for a couple days, the man’s wife noticed that he was acting different. He was sick and acting as though he was drunk each time he took the medication. As it turns out, he was taking anti-depression medication that was prescribed to another customer. He took a hefty dose of 300 mg, which was the prescribed dose of the ibuprofen he thought he was taking.

After he was admitted to the hospital, doctors determined that he would be fine. However, he was suffering from heart palpitations and extremely high blood pressure for those few days when he was taking the medication. A CVS representative told reporters that they have “comprehensive policies and procedures in place to ensure prescription safety and errors are a very rare occurrence,” and offered to pay for all the medical expenses the man incurred.

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Earlier this month in Bend, Oregon, a 65-year-old woman died as a result of a medication mix-up that occurred at a local hospital. According to a report by one local news source, the woman was admitted to the hospital for a brain surgery a few days prior and came back to the hospital with a dosage question regarding her anti-seizure medication.

pills-1111305-mEvidently, instead of providing the woman with her anti-seizure medication, the hospital pharmacy provided her with a powerful paralyzing agent that is usually reserved for surgeries. The woman stopped breathing shortly after taking the medication and went into cardiac arrest. The hospital took her off life support a short time later, and she was pronounced dead.

In official statements, the hospital has admitted that the incident was its fault, but it is still conducting an investigation into how exactly the fatal medication mix-up occurred. The woman’s family described their reaction as “pure anger” when they found out that their loved one died as a result of a preventable mistake. At the time of the article’s publication, the family was not sure if they are going to pursue legal action against the hospital.

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Pharmacies are businesses. They exist to make money. When a pharmacy wants to pad the proverbial “bottom line” this usually means cutting corners elsewhere. In a frightening news report out of Houston, reporters spoke to several former pharmacists and pharmacy experts who told them that the public has no idea what is going on and how common pharmacy errors really are.

pills-1161455-mAccording to one former pharmacist, recently some pharmacies like CVS have started using “metrics” to track the efficiency of pharmacists, encouraging them to fill more prescriptions per hour. The ultimate goal of these metrics is to allow management to cut back on the cost of staffing, only having the necessary number of pharmacists and pharmacist technicians on the floor at one time.

However, when pharmacies try and walk this fine line, they often push their pharmacists too hard, creating a dangerous situation where errors are much more likely to occur. As one former CVS pharmacist recalls telling his management team, “I kept saying we’re going to hurt a child or hurt a senior citizen.”

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Earlier this month in Glendale, California, a 90-year-old woman died after she was given a dosage that was 10 times higher than that which was prescribed by her physician. According to a report by CBS Los Angeles, the woman was prescribed a generic version of diltiazem, a medication for atrial fibrillation—an arrhythmia of the heart—by her physician.

take-the-blue-pill-2-930460-mHowever, when she took the prescription to get filled at a local pharmacy, the pharmacist who filled the prescription didn’t fill it properly. Instead of taking 30 mg, four times a day, the pharmacist provided her with instructions to take 300 mg four times a day. This resulted in the elderly woman taking 10 times the prescribed dose of the medication.

After a couple days of taking the high dose, the woman became unresponsive. She was taken to the hospital where she stayed for two weeks before she died. It was the day after her 90th birthday. The cause of death was listed by the medical examiner as “diltiazem intoxication due to pharmacy error.”

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Earlier this month in the United Kingdom, an 85-year-old woman died when she took medication that was given to her by her pharmacist that was three times her normal dose. According to a report by one local news source, the woman was prescribed a 25 mg dose of a common anti-depressant medication. However, her local pharmacist admitted to giving her a box of 75 mg pills with a label on the package indicating it contained 25 mg pills.

pill-1120380-mEvidently, the elderly woman had been taking the same medication without incident since 1984. However, after taking the increased dose of medication for one month, the woman’s family began to notice that their loved one was confused and forgetful. In fact, one of her family members told reporters that they thought she was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Not long after she began taking the triple dose of medication, the woman suffered a serious fall that caused her to break six ribs, puncture her lung, and caused her internal bleeding. About 10 days after the fall, she died as a result of the injuries she sustained.

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Earlier last week in Tennessee, a firefighter went to pick up a prescription for an anti-inflammatory medication for shoulder pain and was instead provided Adderall, a medication used to treat the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder. According to one local news report, the firefighter immediately noticed that his heart started racing and he was feeling light-headed.

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After a few days, he could tell something was not right with the medication. He told reporters that “I started noticing I was real jittery and even throughout the day I was just a bit jittery. I started having hallucinations, shortness of breath and I just really wasn’t feeling myself.”

He ended up calling the Walgreen’s that filled the prescription at 4:00 a.m. to ask if something was wrong with the prescription. As it turns out, he had been given another patient’s medication and had been taking 30g of Adderall twice a day for several days. The firefighter was admitted into the emergency room twice in two days and was given medication to slow down his heart rate.

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Earlier this month in Michigan, a teenager’s family discovered that he had been taking the wrong prescription for almost a whole month after they noticed that his mood was off and his schoolwork declining. According to a report by one local news source, the teen was prescribed medication for his ADHD that he was to take daily. However, when he went to fill the prescription, he was instead provided a generic version of Singulair, an asthma medication.

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The teen’s parents noticed that he was acting off once he started taking the medication. He was “extremely feisty and bitey and moody, extremely moody, and his school work just went downhill, everything went downhill.” But the parents didn’t know what was wrong. At first, they thought that he was not getting enough of the medication, and that his dosage was off because he had grown since the dosage was last adjusted. It wasn’t until the teen’s mom looked at the bottle when she took it to get refilled that she noticed a problem.

Evidently, the bottle had the teen’s first name on it and his last initial, but it was for an entirely different patient. Making matters even more confusing, the correct address and prescription label was on the bottle. When they first filled the prescription, the teen’s mom trusted her son to take his medication as he should. In fact, he was doing fine taking it as needed until this setback.

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In a newly released study by Pediatrics, it is reported that there are an astronomical amount of child medication errors that are occurring outside the hospital setting. According to one article that summarized the report, there are almost 64,000 medication errors annually in the United States involving children under the age of six. Twenty-five percent of these errors occur in infants under the age of one.

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The report explains that each year, there are about 200,000 medication errors that occur outside of hospitals, and about 30% of these errors involve children under six. This comes to one medication error every eight minutes. Of course, the study can only deal with reported medication errors. The actual number of errors is expected to be much higher, since only a fraction of errors are reported.

Liquid medications are by far the biggest culprit when it comes to medication errors, resulting in a whopping 89% of all errors. As far as what was causing the error, the breakdown is as follows:

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In a frightening case out of British Columbia, a 76-year-old, otherwise healthy woman died when she was prescribed two drugs that were known to have dangerous interactions. According to a report by one local news source, the error slipped past the physician, two pharmacists, and the computer system that tracks drug interactions.

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Evidently, the woman was on maintenance therapy for her colitis with a drug called mercaptopurine, an immunosuppressant. When the woman developed a case of gout, her prescribing doctor sent her to the pharmacy with a prescription for another drug. The two drugs were prescribed by the same doctor.

When she went to the pharmacy to fill her prescription for the new medication, no one at the pharmacy told her that the two drugs could be dangerous if taken together. The woman went home, continued taking her mercaptopurine, and started with the new drug as well.

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In a frightening case earlier last month out of New Zealand, a man needed to be hospitalized after he started to cough up blood due to a pharmacist’s error. The pharmacist responsible was actually hired from a temp agency that staffs short-term employees.
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According to one local news source, a 65-year-old man went to fill a prescription for warfarin, a blood-thinner and anti-coagulant used to treat blood clots. Instead of providing him the required dose of a single 1 mg pill, the pharmacist filled the prescription for five 1 mg pills.

The man took the medication as instructed and six weeks later was complaining of extreme abdominal pain and constipation. He was hospitalized when he started coughing up blood and urinating blood. The man was taken off warfarin and placed on vitamin K instead. After five days in the hospital, doctors felt that he was okay to return back home. There is no indication as to what, if any, long-term effects the man may experience as a result of the overdose.

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