Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog

A recent report by one local Canadian news source points out that, despite there being thousands upon thousands of prescription errors in Canada each year, there is little in the way of accountability for pharmacists who make the errors. According to the report, Canada has about 38,000 pharmacists who fill about half a billion prescriptions each year. But the error rate is unknown.

perscription-drugs-2-1160103-mOne woman told reporters that she was provided a double dose of her anxiety medication when she went to have her prescription filled. Another woman told her story about how she was not told by her pharmacist that a prescribed anti-seizure medication would interfere with her birth control. She ended up getting pregnant.

Another man was provided blood-pressure medication instead of the anti-inflammatory his doctor prescribed. He was in such pain that he had to take time off from work, and he eventually lost his job of 30 years as a result of the error. Now he is on permanent disability.

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Earlier this month, a man and his mother spoke with reporters about their experience having prescriptions filled at their local Costco pharmacy. According to the report, Costco incorrectly filled the man’s mother’s prescription not once but twice over a one-year period.

spilled-pills-72200-mEvidently, back in September the woman noticed that the pills she was provided by the pharmacist were larger than they normally were. She had her son call the pharmacist, who told him that they were indeed the wrong pill. In fact, the pill she was provided, had she taken it, would have resulted in her taking a double dose of the prescribed medication. The pharmacist instructed the woman to cut the pills in half and then take the proper dose.

Just three months later, the woman noticed that, again, the pills she was provided by the pharmacy were the incorrect size. This time, they were too small. Again, she called the pharmacist, who asked her to bring the pills in. After double-checking them, he confirmed that they were indeed the wrong pill and apologized to the woman before refilling her prescription with the proper pills.

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wooden-mortar-with-pestle-1405696-mEarlier this month in Boston, the Associated Press reported on a story of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy that was under criminal investigation for over 25 deaths caused by medication that the pharmacy created. According to the report, the case is the largest in U.S. history to be brought against a pharmacy and alleges that the owner of the pharmacy and 14 former employees were engaged in criminal conduct in the creation of medication using expired ingredients.

Evidently, the New England Compounding Center employees are charged with knowingly using expired ingredients as well as failing to follow cleanliness standards that ultimately resulted in over 750 cases of illness and 64 deaths nationwide.

According to the article, the federal government recently seized over $18 million in funds that were being transferred into and out of accounts with various owners’ names on them. The seizures spanned 13 financial institutions and dozens of transfers.

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Just a few weeks ago, a Superior Court judge in Rhode Island reinstated the license of a pharmacist and state senator who had been found responsible for several serious pharmaceutical errors. According to one local news report, the pharmacist had committed several errors, including providing morphine to two children back in early 2012.

bitter-pills-73362-mEvidently, one of the two children provided morphine was an 11-year-old girl who was prescribed medication for her acid reflux. Upon getting home and taking the medication, the girl’s parents noticed that she became extremely lethargic. They took her to the hospital, where they found out that she had ingested morphine that was in her acid-reflux medication.

In an initial determination, the Department of Health revoked the pharmacist’s license for fear that another error may result in the loss of human life. However, the Board of Pharmacy recommended a mere 2.5-year suspension.

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Earlier this year in November, an 83-year-old grandfather of eight died after he was provided the incorrect medication by a pharmacist. According to a report by one local news source, the man attempted to fill a prescription for paracetamol to help with the pain that an ulcer on his foot was causing him. However, he was provided with Verapamil, a medication used to treat high blood pressure.

pills-2-526220-mEvidently, after the man phoned in his prescriptions, the delivery driver for the pharmacy came to the man’s home to deliver the medications, but the man was not home. Later, the head pharmacist himself delivered the medication to the man’s home on his way home from work. However, on his way out the door he grabbed the wrong prescription.

When the pharmacist delivered the medication, the man took the medication without reading the labels. When the pharmacist realized the mistake he had just made, he drove back to the man’s home to tell him that there should be no adverse effect from taking the wrong medication. However, hours later the man woke up complaining of shortness of breath and was taken to a nearby hospital.
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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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