Most people would like to think that if they were ever given an incorrect prescription by a pharmacist, they would catch the mistake. However, statistics indicate that most people who are provided with the wrong medication, incorrect dose, or improper instructions at the pharmacy counter do not notice the error until they have taken the medication home and ingested at least one dose.

EyeglassesWhen dealing with visually impaired patients, there is a drastic reduction in the chance that the patient will notice the error. This pertains not just to those who are legally blind but also to the elderly or others with poor vision. A patient with compromised eyesight may be able to see well enough to find their way to the pharmacy counter but will likely have difficulty reading the small print on prescription bottles.

Pharmacists have a duty to fill all patients’ prescriptions accurately, and they may be held liable for any injuries that result from an error. Under the law as it pertains to pharmacy error claims, a visually impaired patient will not be expected to catch the error. That is to say that the pharmacist will not be able to argue that the patient should have caught the error in an attempt to avoid liability.

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In the old days, a pharmacist’s job hardly resembled what it does today. With hundreds of patients coming in to fill tens of thousands of prescriptions each month, the average pharmacist is extremely busy. This leaves them with little time to spend with each patient, and it may even result in the pharmacist rushing through important safety measures just to keep up with the workload.

Taking MedicationThe situation in hospital pharmacies is similar; with patients constantly being admitted and discharged, it can be difficult for pharmacists to keep all of the patients and medications straight. This has led hospitals across the country to rely more on technology. And it seems to be working in reducing Maryland pharmacy error rates and rates in other states.

According to a recent news article, the use of electronic health records (EHRs) and computerized prescriber-order-entry (CPOE) systems has greatly reduced the number of medication errors in hospitals nationwide. As a result, these systems have been widely adopted, with approximately 99% of hospitals using EHRs and 97% of hospitals using CPOE systems to fill at least some portions of the prescriptions filled in the hospital.

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Patients have to put a great deal of faith in their doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. We put our lives in the hands of medical providers. But medical providers can make mistakes just like anyone else. Since medication errors occur all too frequently, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists have to be vigilant in making sure that every patient is getting the right medication.

Diabetes SuppliesProving Negligence in Medication Error Cases

To recover damages in a Maryland medication error case, a plaintiff must show that the defendant acted negligently. Negligence can be shown by demonstrating that the defendant was negligent in doing or failing to do something. A plaintiff must show the following elements:  the defendant had a legal duty to use due care toward the plaintiff, the defendant failed to perform that duty, the plaintiff suffered damages, and the defendant’s failure to perform the required duty caused the plaintiff’s damages.

Examples of damages available to medication error victims include medical expenses, lost wages, physical therapy, and loss of earning capacity.

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Tens of thousands of patients are provided the wrong medication, wrong dose, or wrong instructions in their prescriptions each year. These Maryland pharmacy errors can range in seriousness. On one end of the spectrum are the errors that are caught by the patient before any medication is ingested. While these errors present no risk of injury, they are still alarming.

PillsMore serious prescription errors are those that result in serious injuries or death. While there are tens of thousands of documented errors each year, approximately 7,000 of these errors are fatal. Over the past decade, the pharmacy industry has been the focus of many studies looking at how to decrease the cases of serious and fatal errors. A recent report discusses five of the most common recommendations for pharmacists to take that will decrease their error rates.

Provide enough pharmacists – One of the leading causes of pharmacy errors is that the pharmacist filling the prescription is overworked. By ensuring that there are enough pharmacist staff members on duty, pharmacies are able to keep workloads manageable and provide much-needed breaks to pharmacists.

Maryland pharmacy errors are shockingly common and have several causes. One cause that is rarely discussed is compounding errors involving intravenous (IV) medication. The use of IV medication is very common is hospitals. Normally, a nurse comes into a patient’s room with a small bag of fluid, connects the bag to the IV in the patient’s arm, and hangs the bag up near the patient’s bed. However, patients are only seeing a small part of what goes into preparing this medication.

IV MedicationIn reality, there are many steps that must be taken before that bag of liquid is administered to a hospital patient. According to a recent industry news source, there are a number of ways that an error can occur when a pharmacist prepares IV medication. For example, the pharmacists in the hospital’s compounding center are rarely required to conform to the same protocol, resulting in each pharmacist having their own system for creating compound medications. In a busy pharmacy environment, this can result in a pharmacist overlooking a crucial step or making some other kind of hasty error.

Of course, when dealing with serious medications, the measurements must be precise. However, too often, pharmacists are essentially “eyeballing” the correct amount of medication by using small black measurement lines on the side of a syringe. In addition, much of the process relies on hand-written notes that can be misinterpreted, resulting in an increased chance of an error.

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Pharmacy errors are much more common than most people believe. Indeed, according to some estimates, one in 12 patients are provided the wrong medication or an incorrect dose, or are given instructions that are not correct, given the patient’s specific circumstances. While most Maryland pharmacy errors do not result in serious harm to the patient, thousands of errors each year result in hospitalization.

Random PillsAccording to a recent article, the British Health Secretary is so concerned with the high rate of prescription errors in his country that he has vowed to conduct an in-depth investigation into the root causes of these errors and to develop remedial measures to decrease the prevalence of pharmacy errors moving forward. The article explains that of the roughly one billion prescriptions filled by pharmacies each year, approximately 80 million contain some kind of error.

Some experts attribute the high rate of errors to frequent lapses of care across the health care system, including a lack of knowledge of primary care physicians and a hasty pharmacy environment. Researchers hope that the continued development of automated pharmaceutical dispensing systems will help to decrease error rates in the future; however, these systems come with their own risks of use.

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While pharmacy errors have a number of causes, one of the more common causes of Maryland prescription drug errors is when a pharmacist incorrectly reads the prescription form filled out by a patient’s physician. In the past, these errors have often been attributed to the poor penmanship of physicians. However, over recent years, the number of these errors has remained high despite new electronically completed prescription forms.

White PillsTo be sure, pharmacists do not have an easy job, and a lot of responsibility rests on their shoulders. In many pharmacies, management keeps staffing levels low in order to save on labor costs. However, this decrease in pharmacy staff often comes at a cost – which is all too often paid by the patient.

As pharmacists take on more and more work per shift, their accuracy necessarily decreases because they are spending less time per patient. Indeed, there have been recent reports of pharmacists failing to submit their work to be double-checked and overriding electronic safety protocols.

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With the increase of pharmacy errors over the past several years, many pharmacies are looking to automated systems to reduce the element of human error in the filling of prescriptions. Indeed, most Maryland prescription errors are caused by busy pharmacists trying to keep up with what seems like a never-ending workload. While pharmacists are certainly well-intentioned, the reality is that by acting in haste, they place patients at risk.

Pink PillsIn many cases, these automated systems use a series of bar codes to inventory, track, and dispense medication, making sure that the proper medication gets to the patient. However, even with the advent of these new automated systems, serious pharmacy errors still occur. When a pharmacy error does occur, the results may be devastating, especially when the patient is elderly or young, or when the medication in question carries serious side effects.

Infant’s Mother Provided Expired Medication at Retail Pharmacy

Earlier this month, the mother of a four-month-old baby was given medication for her child that had been expired for six months. According to a local news report covering the error, the child was suffering from a severe case of acid reflux and was prescribed medication for the condition by the family’s physician. The mother took the prescription to a local pharmacy, picking up four boxes of the medication. By the time the mother got back to her car, she double-checked the box and noticed that all four boxes had been expired for six months – two months before her baby was even born.

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Pharmacy errors always carry a risk of causing serious or potentially fatal consequences. However, when the victim of a Maryland pharmacy error is a child or young adult, the chances of the victim suffering serious injuries are greatly increased.

Prescription BottlePharmaceutical drugs, by their very nature, are extremely powerful substances that have the power to cure but also the power to cause serious harm. Even a slight variance in the prescribed dose of a medication to a child or young adult patient can result in serious injuries. However, the reality is that several thousand young patients are provided the wrong medication or the wrong dose of their medication each year. While the pharmaceutical industry is in the process of reworking the system to reduce these errors, there has yet to be any appreciable decrease in error rates among young patients.

Maryland Pharmacy Error Cases

When a pharmacist provides a young patient with the wrong type of medication or the wrong dose of their prescribed medication, and the patient suffers injuries as a result, the young patient and his family may be able to seek compensation for his injuries through a Maryland pharmacy error lawsuit. Most often, these cases are contested by pharmacies, and anyone considering bringing a pharmacy error claim should speak with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney prior to doing so.

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Pharmacists rely heavily on an advanced command of mathematics to accurately fill prescriptions and avoid Maryland pharmacy errors. While some medications come pre-packaged, and all a pharmacist needs to do is double-check the physician’s instructions, other prescriptions require pharmacists to make small adjustments to dosage or administration instructions. This is especially the case in compounding pharmacies, which create specialized pharmaceutical compounds.

Assorted PillsAccording to a recent industry news report, a significant number of pharmacy errors are caused by pharmacists incorrectly placing decimal points, or by the improper use of leading or trailing zeros. These errors, known as errors that involve a factor of 10, can result in a patient being given 10 times the required strength or one-tenth of the required strength, depending on the error.

The most common types of decimal point errors involve a pharmacist providing a patient with medication that is 10 times stronger than that which the patient’s physician prescribed. For example, if a physician prescribed a .5-mg dose, a pharmacist may miss the decimal point and provide the patient with a 5-mg dose. Of course, the dangers of this type of error are self-evident, especially when dealing with controlled substances.

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