Technological advances in medicine over the past 50 years have greatly benefited patients through the use of emerging treatments and technology-assisted procedures that allow doctors and other medical providers to provide better care to their patients faster and at a lower cost. As many parts of the medical field have rapidly progressed through the information age, certain areas of the profession continue to lag behind other industries, and this arguably prevents doctors and other medical professionals from giving their patients the best treatment possible. Medical record-keeping practices serve as an example of how the profession has not quite caught up with the rest of society, and patients can be harmed as a result.

KeyboardMany Doctors Still Use the Color-Coded Charts for Patients’ Medical History

A patient’s medical history contains some of the most important information that doctors need to know before diagnosing and treating a condition or prescribing medication. The patient’s “chart” provides a place for this important information to be recorded, and it has often consisted of an actual paper chart that is physically stored for each patient at a doctor’s office (often in some sort of color-coded folder that is stored behind the receptionist). Although this system has generally worked for the last 100 years that it has been in use, it is an obsolete relic of an older time that is due for replacement.

Continue Reading

It is common for the victims of prescription mistakes and other potentially dangerous medical errors to feel sympathy for medical professionals who made a mistake that could form the basis for a lawsuit. In fact, some victims decide not to report an error or make a claim because they feel guilty revealing a potentially career-ending mistake that was innocently made by a pharmacist or another medical professional.

PillsAlthough this feeling is understandable, the victims of pharmacy errors should not feel guilty about bringing claims seeking damages to which they are entitled. In fact, pharmacy error claims ultimately benefit not only the retail pharmaceutical industry and pharmacists as a whole, but also the American people by helping form a professional and respected occupation that is responsible for the health and lives of our citizens.

Pharmacy Industry Report Discusses the Motivation Within the Industry that is Caused by Error Claims

An article recently published by a pharmaceutical industry magazine attempts to show the issue of pharmacy errors from a pharmacist’s perspective. In the report, one pharmacist is spotlighted, and he discusses the effect that pharmacy errors have had on his career. Referring to the errors as “inevitable” in the careers of pharmacists, the article demonstrates the idea that pharmacy error claims and lawsuits, and more specifically the desire to avoid them, provide a great deal of motivation to those in the pharmaceutical industry and may actually improve the overall quality of care by incentivizing accuracy when dispensing prescription medications.

Continue Reading

A recently published medical industry report attempts to point out the surprising threat that American patients face every day in doctor’s offices and hospitals due to the small print that is used on many prescription forms, medication bottles, and medical review materials. The report, which was supplied to the publisher by a company seeking to profit from the present-day problem, notes that a survey of health care professionals performed in 2014-2015 found that almost 90% of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals reported difficulty reading the small print found on drug labels and that over 35% were aware of a close call or actual prescription error that occurred because of the small print on some medical materials.

Pill BottleDoctors Who Don’t Need Reading Glasses or Assistance From a Colleague with Adequate Vision May Make Mistakes and then Blame the Small Print

The report contains startling information that millions of patients may be placed at risk every day because doctors and nurses are unable to read medication bottles correctly, and some of these professionals apparently do not take the initiative to ensure that their eyes are functioning well enough to protect their patients from a pharmacy or medical error stemming from a piece of medical literature that is read incorrectly. The article seems to place the blame for these errors and any injuries, illnesses, or deaths they cause upon the small print that is used on medication bottles. However, the bottom line is that medical professionals are responsible for reading what is on medication bottles and other literature before they give a potentially dangerous medication to a patient.

If a medical professional is unable to read a piece of text and does not seek assistance by consulting a colleague, putting on some glasses, using an app on their smartphone, or using a piece of magnification equipment to ensure that they understand what they are doing, they should be held responsible for any injuries that are caused by their mistake.

Continue Reading

Prescription errors are common and can occur in a variety of circumstances. They can be made by a doctor prescribing a medication or by a pharmacist filling a prescription. They can be made by providing the incorrect dosage, or they can occur by providing the wrong drug. For example, some drug names that are similar can be confused, and a prescription may be filled with the wrong medication. The Institute for Safe Medicine has even comprised a list of commonly mixed-up drug names. Also, a pharmacist may simply misinterpret or misread a doctor’s prescription. Any of these mistakes can have serious consequences for patients.

PharmacyVictims of prescription errors may be entitled to monetary compensation, but they or their loved one will need to establish that a defendant acted negligently by doing or failing to do something. This means the plaintiff has to show the defendant failed to meet the “standard of care,” which generally requires the medical professional to use the same practices and procedures that other medical professionals would use in the situation.

Since medical malpractice cases, including prescription errors, involve complicated medical information, it is important to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney who understands how to interpret medical information and knows how to use experts effectively. The damages resulting from a prescription error case can be devastating, and injured parties should be compensated fairly for their losses.

Continue Reading

Many pharmacy errors result in the wrong dose of the prescribed medication being given to a patient by mistake, or the dosage instructions being printed incorrectly on the bottle. Thus, even when taking their medicines as directed, some patients are receiving significantly more (or less) medication than their doctor prescribed. A recently published article from a local news source discusses a case in which a pharmacy accidentally dispensed 10 times the prescribed amount of an antipsychotic medication to a young boy, who took the drug for several months before the error was noticed.

Assorted PillsBoy Receives Prescription for 0.3 mg of Risperidone to Treat Behavioral Issues

According to the report, the boy and his mother visited a psychiatrist for treatment of psychological and behavioral problems. The doctor prescribed the antipsychotic medication Risperidone to the boy with instructions to consume 0.3 mg of the drug per dose. For several months, the pharmacy failed to see the decimal point and dispensed medication with instructions for the boy to consume three mg for each dose.

For months, the boy was taking intoxicating and dangerous levels of the drug. His mother visited several doctors, trying to determine what was wrong. Eventually, doctors noticed that the boy was receiving 10 times the amount he was prescribed, and the mother visited the pharmacy for answers.

Continue Reading

Most people who are prescribed a medication by a physician are prescribed a ready-made form of that medication, whether it be a pill, liquid, powder, or cream. However, sometimes a need arises for a physician to prescribe a very specific dose or form of a medication based on a patient’s individual needs. This is called a compounded medication.

Liquid MedicationCompounded medications require that a pharmacist mix together certain ingredients and essentially create the exact dose and form of a medication that is tailored to a patient’s needs. In many cases, compounded medications are required by the elderly or the very young. While compounded pharmaceuticals are necessary for some patients, there is a chance that the pharmacist creating the medication makes an error, resulting in the wrong medication or wrong dose being delivered to the patient.

Eight-Year-Old Boy Dies Due to Error in Compounded Medication

Earlier this year, a young Canadian boy died in his sleep after his mother provided him with a compounded medication created by a local pharmacist. According to a local news source reporting on the tragic error, the young boy suffered from an REM sleep disorder that required he take tryptophan. However, since the boy had difficulty taking the tryptophan pills, his mother had a special liquid medication compounded by the pharmacist. The compounded medication worked fine for 18 months.

Continue Reading

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) creates an evolving list of high-alert medications that, while they are not necessarily more likely to be involved in an error, are especially dangerous if they are accidentally given to a patient. However, according to one industry news report, despite the availability of this list, many hospitals across the country do not have a readily accessible high-alert drug list or fail to take appropriate measures to ensure hospital staff is aware of the list.

Hospital CorridorThe report notes that some medications are more commonly associated with pharmacy errors. For example, medications with sound-alike names or medications that physically resemble other medications are more likely to be involved in an error. Thus, the report suggests that hospitals create hospital-specific lists of medications that may be at a higher risk of being involved in an error, due to specific factors in play at a particular hospital. For example, if the physical location of two drugs near each other has resulted in numerous errors, hospitals should add both medications to a high-alert drug list and take additional precautions so that these medications are not inadvertently mixed up in the future.

The report also explains that remedial measures taken by some hospitals are not effective in reducing pharmacy errors. For example, relying on staff training without further follow-up does not have a significant impact on error rates. Similarly ineffective measures are high-alert lists placed on pharmacy bins, since these are often overlooked by busy staff members.

Continue Reading

Prescription medications are powerful drugs that can have major adverse effects on everyone, especially children. These medications are available only with a doctor’s recommendation because they may have serious interactions with other medications, may present a high risk of overdose, or may require very specific instructions regarding how to take the medication. In children, even the smallest mistake can result in a serious injury or even death.

PharmacistWhile many medication errors involving children take place at home when a parent gives their child medicine, the ultimate responsibility for the error may not lie with the parent. In fact, the way that many children’s medications are dosed makes it very difficult for parents to make the necessary conversions. In a recent report discussing pharmacy errors that affect children, it is noted that most children’s medication has one set of instructions for administration with an oral syringe and another for administration in teaspoons, leaving parents with the job of converting one into the other.

In fact, a recent study involving 2,000 children under eight years old and their caretakers found that 84% of the caretakers made some mistake with the administration of the child’s medicine. Most of these mistakes involved doses calling for measurement by teaspoon or measuring cups. Currently, there is a push by the Food and Drug Administration to standardize all doses in children’s medication, using milliliters. However, until then, it is recommended that extra precautions be taken to ensure that anyone providing liquid medication to a child understand exactly what the intended dose is.

Continue Reading

Many people are unaware, but medical mistakes are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, causing roughly 365,000 deaths per year. The category of medical mistakes is a broad category, including medical malpractice, diagnostic errors, surgical errors, and pharmacy errors.

Assorted PillsPharmacy errors occur when a pharmacist provides a patient with the wrong dose of a prescribed medication, the wrong directions on how to take a prescribed medication, or the wrong medication altogether. These errors may occur in the hospital setting or in a retail pharmacy, but errors occurring in the in-patient setting are even more frightening and surprising because the medication is actually delivered by a doctor or nurse. One would expect that this extra layer of interaction would result in most pharmacy errors being discovered before a medication is delivered to a patient, but that is not necessarily the case.

In a recent article discussing medical mistakes generally, as well as what can be done to prevent them, the writer mentions several precautions that can be taken to decrease the frequency of in-patient pharmacy errors. The first suggestion is to have pharmacists make rounds to see all patients in the hospital along with the doctors and nurses. The author explains that while doctors are in charge of a patient’s overall care plan, a pharmacist is a much-needed consultant when it comes to any potential interactions medications may have with one another. In fact, a recent study cited by the article notes that hospitals that have implemented this plan have seen a 94% reduction of serious pharmacy errors.

Continue Reading

Recently, a New Zealand boy was admitted to the hospital three times after he was provided a prescription that was 10 times stronger than prescribed by his physician. According to a local news report covering the error and the subsequent investigation, the boy suffers from cerebral palsy and is prescribed Baclofen, a muscle relaxer, to help him control his symptoms.

Yellow PillsEvidently, the prescription was phoned in by the boy’s physician and picked up by his mother. She gave him the medication as directed, and as a result she had to take her son to the hospital three times with increased seizures, shortness of breath, and deep breathing. It was not until the third visit to the hospital that it was discovered that the reason for her son’s exacerbated symptoms was the dispensing error.

An investigation was initiated by a government oversight group to find out how this type of error could occur. The investigators discovered that there were two pharmacists on duty that day:  a filling pharmacist and a checking pharmacist. According to the inspector, the performance of both pharmacists fell short of the duty they owed the child. The investigator explained that “maintaining a logical, safe and disciplined dispensing procedure, including assessing the efficacy and safety of medicine, are fundamental aspects of pharmacy practice.”

Continue Reading

Contact Information