Most Maryland pharmacy errors occur when an overworked pharmacist receives a correct prescription from a physician and makes an error in filling the prescription. Commonly, these errors include filling the wrong dose of the correct medication, providing the patient with the wrong administration instructions, or filling the prescription with the wrong drug. However, some prescription errors result from a negligent or reckless physician.

Mixed MedicationsBoth doctors and pharmacists owe a duty of care to their patients when it comes to prescription medication. However, these duties differ slightly, and for good reason. A pharmacist has no control over the medication a doctor prescribes to his patient, and a doctor has no control over the accuracy of the pharmacist. However, in some cases, these duties overlap.

In a recent article, one pharmacist recounts an error that was made just a few years after he had graduated from pharmacy school. The pharmacist, relatively new at the time, was asked by a physician to prescribe an adult dose of medication to a child. When the pharmacist questioned what he believed to be too high a dose for a child, the doctor assured the pharmacist that it was appropriate because the child was “adult-sized.”

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Earlier this month, a man in a New Zealand hospital died due to opioid toxicity after he was administered what turned out to be a fatal dose of fentanyl. According to a local news report covering the story, the error was a result of system-wide failures across the spectrum of care providers.

SurgeryThe victim of the error was at the hospital for a routine knee surgery. The hospital had just implemented a new e-prescribing system the month before, whereby physicians could order medication at a patient’s bedside with one touch on a computer screen. The physician overseeing the victim’s care was attending to another patient when he remembered to put in an order for the victim’s medication. The physician input the medication order and then returned his attention to the other patient.

The physician, however, failed to switch the computer screen back to the patient who was with him. Thus, when the physician entered a medication order for fentanyl patches that was intended for the other patient, the order was sent to the victim’s file.

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When most people think of picking up a prescription, a retail pharmacy comes to mind. However, each year, a significant portion of the overall prescriptions filled are filled by hospital pharmacies. While there are many similarities between hospital pharmacies and their retail counterparts, there are also major differences that can lead to an increased risk of hospital patients suffering from a Maryland pharmacy error.

Written PrescriptionAccording to a recent news report, one of the most likely scenarios in which a hospital pharmacy error occurs is during the transition from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Indeed, the report indicates that nearly 50% of all patients transferring out of the ICU experience some kind of pharmacy error.

The Results of the Study

The study, which was led by a clinical pharmacy research specialist, observed nearly 1,000 patients over a one-week period. Each of the patients was transferred from the ICU to another unit within the same hospital. The results were that 45.7% of all patients experienced an error with their medication, averaging about 1.88 errors per patient.

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By some estimates, medical errors are among the top three causes of death in the United States. While the classification of a medical error is broad, including surgical errors and medical malpractice, the classification also includes pharmacy errors. Indeed, there are tens of thousands of pharmacy errors each year, and this number is likely a gross underestimate because nearly all errors that do not result in serious injuries or death go unreported.

PillsWhen pharmacy errors are reported, authorities take them very seriously. Indeed, a recent article discusses one pharmacist who was found guilty of reckless homicide and imprisoned for six months after an error he made resulted in a young girl’s death. While this is rare, it does happen because the law does not necessarily require intentional conduct to find someone guilty of a homicide.

According to a recent news report, the pharmacist who was responsible for the young girl’s death has tried to turn his life around with the help of a seemingly unlikely friend – the father of the girl who died from the pharmacist’s mistake. In the wake of his daughter’s death, the girl’s father decided that he did not believe the pharmacist intended to cause an error and that he wanted to do what he could to emotionally support the pharmacist while he was in jail. The two men became friends and have since begun to work together to help raise awareness around issues of pharmacy errors.

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Earlier this month, a local news article covered the story of a woman who suffers from what appear to be permanent symptoms related to an overdose of prescription epilepsy medication. According to the report, the woman was diagnosed with epilepsy years ago and wrestled with various treatments. Eventually, she was prescribed 10 mg of Briviak, an epilepsy medication, twice a day.

Multicolored PillsThe pharmacist to whom the woman took the prescription, however, filled the prescription with 100 mg pills. The woman took the medication as prescribed for three months, refilling the prescription several rimes in that period. Once she discovered the error, the woman’s doctors had to slowly wean her off the medication. Despite that, she still suffers from withdrawal symptoms. In addition, she suffers from permanent pain and twitching. She told reporters that, although she is just 24 years old, she feels as though she is a “75, 80-year old woman.”

The pharmacy responsible for the error acknowledged the mistake, claiming that it was in fact due to human error. The pharmacy has since revised their processes and coached all pharmacists and technicians. The woman told reporters that she understands humans can make mistakes, but she hopes to bring awareness to the issue of pharmacy errors. She has not yet decided if she will pursue a lawsuit against the pharmacy.

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Over the past decade, the U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in the number of deaths as a result of opioid use and abuse. Indeed, according to the most recent government statistics, over 35,000 people die each year as a result of opioid overdoses. Roughly half of these deaths are caused by prescription painkillers. These figures represent a nearly three-times increase over previous years.

The recent rash of opioid deaths has called into question the medical profession’s reliance on these drugs to treat pain. Notwithstanding the well-understood dangers of opioid use and abuse, opioid painkillers are still prescriExtra-Strength Medicationbed in record numbers each year. Not surprisingly, given the number of prescriptions filled each year, there are a significant number of pharmacy errors involving opioids.

Regardless of the type of medication involved, pharmacists have a duty to ensure that a patient’s prescription is filled accurately. This means not only making sure that the correct drug is provided to the patient, but also providing the proper dose and instructions. When pharmacists make an error involving a drug as dangerous as an opioid painkiller, there is a high likelihood that the patient could accidentally overdose.

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Medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, are human, and as a result, it is expected that they will, on occasion, make mistakes. This does not mean that they are bad people or have a malicious intent behind their actions; the vast majority of medical errors are results of a system that places too heavy a burden on medical professionals.

ApothecaryPutting aside the lack of intent to cause harm, the reality is that Maryland pharmacy errors do cause a significant number of patients to suffer serious injuries each year. According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University, there are over 250,000 pharmacy errors each year. However, according to a recent news report discussing the new study, the actual rate of pharmacy errors may be much higher than originally thought.

The reason for the potential disparity, the article claims, is the manner in which physicians, funeral directors, coroners, and medical examiners fill out death certificates. Evidently, it is common practice to use broad categories when referring to someone’s cause of death. This, in effect, groups preventable medical errors that were results of human or computer errors in with other non-preventable causes of death. As a result, the reported instances of preventable pharmacy errors are difficult to determine.

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When a pharmacist gives a patient the wrong medication, or the incorrect dose of the proper medication, the patient can be put in great danger. The range of medical issues that can result from a Maryland pharmacy error is broad, but the most common problems that arise after a pharmacy error are adverse reactions and overdoses.

Assorted PillsMany prescription medications are controlled for the very reason that they interact negatively with a large number of other medications – both prescription and over-the-counter. Other medications are controlled due to the fact that they require a very precise dosage to be effective. If these medications are provided in excess strength, the patient may suffer an overdose that can potentially be fatal.

Of course, pharmacists are responsible to correctly fill patients’ prescriptions. And while pharmacists cannot normally be held criminally liable for their errors, injured patients and their families may be able to pursue a claim for financial compensation from the pharmacist as well as their employer. These pharmacy error lawsuits, however, can be complex due to the scientific issues that arise when attempting to prove that a pharmacist’s error was the cause of the patient’s injuries.

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When a pharmacist provides a patient with the wrong medication, and the patient suffers harm as a result of the pharmacist’s error, the patient may be entitled to monetary compensation though a Maryland pharmacy error lawsuit. However, while these cases seem to present straightforward and easily identifiable issues, in practice, pharmacy error cases can be extremely complex. Most often, these complexities arise when attempting to establish causation.

medicineSome pharmacy error cases, however, are straightforward, and liability is more easily established. When this is the case, it is more likely that the defendant pharmacy will opt to settle the case out of court rather than take the case to trial.

Regardless of the specific facts at issue, pre-trial settlements can help both sides in a Maryland personal injury case. For one, settlement agreements allow for each side to know exactly what the outcome of the case will be without the uncertainty of having a trial. This allows for pharmacies to more accurately gauge what their liabilities will be and allows for the victims to have a firm grasp on how much compensation they will receive for their injuries. In addition, pre-trial settlements can result in the efficient resolution of a case, often saving months, if not years. For these reasons, among others, it is estimated that approximately 95% of all civil cases result in the parties settling the case out of court.

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Manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs – like other products – are responsible for the products they market and release to the public. Some drugs pose a serious health risk due to potential negative interactions with other commonly taken medications, other medications are easily abused and can lead to dependence or addiction, and many pharmaceuticals can have serious side effects when taken improperly.

SyringeIn general, the manufacturer of a medication is responsible to include an adequate warning, fully disclosing the risks involved with taking the medication. If a drug manufacturer fails to include an adequate warning with their product, they may be held liable for any injuries caused to those who take the medication through a Maryland product liability lawsuit.

Testosterone-Therapy Drugs

Testosterone-therapy drugs have been available for decades, and until recently, they have primarily been prescribed to younger men with low testosterone production. However, over the past few years, doctors have been prescribing testosterone-therapy drugs to older men. These medications, however, are not without their risks.

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