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It is estimated that pharmacy errors are responsible for between two to five percent of global hospital admissions. While determining the exact number of Maryland pharmacy error victims is difficult to determine due to the lax reporting requirements, experts believe that at least seven million people fall victim to medical errors each year. What’s more, the same experts believe that nearly a third of these errors are entirely preventable.

Of course, not all pharmacy errors result in patient harm. Most often, pharmacy errors that do result in harm to the patient involve at least one high-risk medication. However, the term “high-risk medication,” is somewhat controversial in that it implies that less attention needs to be paid to anything that is not a high-risk medication. Nonetheless, the term is commonly used to refer to medicines that are frequently involved in errors or present heightened risks of harm.

An industry news source recently published an article discussing what pharmacists can do to reduce the frequency of pharmacy errors. The article identifies several risk areas where pharmacists should pay extra attention.

The federal government classifies medication as prescription-only for a reason. Often, this is because these drugs can have severe interactions with other medicines or because they carry the risk of severe side effects when not taken under close supervision. Any patient who receives the wrong medication from a pharmacy is at risk of developing a serious illness or condition, but young patients are perhaps most at risk following a Maryland pharmacy error.

Earlier this month, a local news source reported on a pharmacy error involving an eight-year-old girl’s medication. Evidently, the girl suffered from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Hemochromatosis, which caused her to experience severe pain in her joints. The girl’s physician prescribed her a 50 mg dose of Celecoxib, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat acute pain related to arthritis and similar conditions.

The girl took the medication without incident for a few months; however, earlier this year, when her father went to pick up the prescription, he was provided 200 mg pills. Not noticing the error, the girl’s father gave his daughter the medication. Not long after taking the first dose, she told her father that her stomach was hurting. Given the pain his daughter regularly experiences, the girl’s father was surprised to hear the girl complaining of a stomach ache, so he took her to the doctor.

When most patients need prescription medication, their doctor can write a prescription that can be filled by the patient at any pharmacy. However, for patients with allergies or sensitivities, or for those who cannot take a standardized drug, compounding pharmacies create specific medications catered to a patient’s individual needs. While compounding pharmacies help a lot of patients, patients of these pharmacies are at an increased risk of falling victim to a Maryland pharmacy error.

Given the niche patient-base they serve, compounding pharmacies are necessary. However, there are some serious safety concerns with these pharmacies. For instance, the medications that compounding pharmacies create are not subject to FDA testing or approval. This lack of oversight increases the chance of a serious pharmacy error.

Recently, a woman ended up with a large hole in her arm as a result of an error made by a compounding pharmacy. According to a local news report, the woman developed a seizure disorder in 2014. Due to other medical issues, she could not take a standard medication, and so her doctor prescribed a B-12 shot that was to be filled by a local compounding pharmacy. For years, the woman took the medicine as specified with no issues.

Maryland pharmacy errors are almost all preventable. Medication errors that occur in the hospital setting are no exception. While a doctor is typically the one who prescribes a patient medication, nurses are frequently the ones who administer the medicine. Often, nurses care for numerous patients, many of which share the same symptoms, take the same medications, or have similar names. It is this potentially confusing situation that introduces the risk that a nurse can make an error in administering medication to a patient.

A recent news report detailed a pharmacy error resulting in the death of a patient. Evidently, the patient, Mrs. Cook, was in room 26. Two doors down was another patient named Mrs. Cock. Mrs. Cock was prescribed hydromorphone, a powerful painkiller that was kept in a secured cabinet in the hospital’s medication room. However, Mrs. Cook was accidentally given Mrs. Cock’s hydromorphone pills. Within nine days, Mrs. Cook died.

Two nurses were present when Mrs. Cook was given the incorrect medication. When asked about the incident, the nurse who was primarily responsible for Mrs. Cook’s care claimed that a registered nurse who was helping out was responsible for the error. He also stated that he did not see the registered nurse administer the medication to Mrs. Cook because he was busy reviewing Mrs. Cook’s chart. The nurse acknowledged that the two women were “physically quite different.” He also admitted that Mrs. Cock was able to walk while Mrs. Cook was often confused and needed assistance with most daily activities.

Prescription medications are potent and potentially hazardous drugs that can cause serious illness or even death if not properly administered. While pharmacists are medical professionals who are required to obtain significant training and experience before they are allowed to serve customers, they are also human and subject to error. Because of this, Maryland patients should do all they can to reduce the chance of falling victim to a Maryland pharmacy error.

The duty to ensure that a patient receives the correct medication rests with the pharmacist. However, patients should not sit back and place complete trust in pharmacists, especially because several simple precautions can be taken to significantly reduce the chance of a Maryland medication mistake. By taking the precautions below, pharmacy patients can reduce the risk that they will become the victim of a Maryland pharmacy error.

  • Maintain a complete and accurate list of all medications: this list should be brought to all doctor’s appointments, as well as to the pharmacy when filling a prescription. Pharmacists should double-check the list a patient provides them with their records, and ensure that there are no two drugs with adverse interactions.

People who have family members in Maryland nursing homes should closely monitor the health of their loved ones. While many nursing homes offer quality care that is provided by compassionate and caring staff members, that is not always the case. Too often, nursing home management tries to cut corners on staffing costs by keeping the number of nurses and other employees at a minimum.

Not only does this mean that there are fewer staff members to help care for residents, but it also places a heightened burden on employees. In turn, this increases the chance that staff members will forget to give a staff member mediation or provide them with the wrong medication when they are in a hurry to move on to another task.

According to a local news article, a nursing home recently agreed to pay the family of a resident who died while in the facility’s care $11 million after reports emerged that the home failed to provide the resident with necessary antibiotic medication. Evidently, the wife of the deceased resident received a letter in the mail six weeks after her husband’s passing, explaining that “there is some information that was not shared with you in regards to the death of your husband.”

As the population increases, more people are filling prescriptions. This results in an increased burden on Maryland pharmacists. Indeed, many experts believe that this increased workload is the leading cause of pharmacy errors. To help pharmacists efficiently fill prescriptions, many pharmacies rely heavily on technology, including e-prescribing, electronic databases, and software designed to bring pharmacist’s attention to potential adverse interactions.

For the most part, technology makes it possible for pharmacists to do their job. However, there is a concern that an overreliance on technology may put patients in jeopardy. According to a recent news report, all patient records were inadvertently deleted after an IT error at a university pharmacy. Evidently, the lost data included prescription and refill history and insurance information for all customers. Pharmacy staff estimate that the affected number of patients is somewhere around 50,000.

As a result of the error, the pharmacy’s databases must all be rebuilt. This requires pharmacists manually enter in all patient data, including insurance information and prescription history. Patients are being asked to call their physician and have them reorder all necessary prescriptions. For now, there have not been any reported pharmacy errors that have occurred as a result of the loss of patient data.

Prescription drugs are designed to make people feel better. However, each year, thousands of people suffer adverse reactions when they take certain substances at the same time. These events are referred to as adverse interactions. Often, the most dangerous Maryland drug interactions are between two prescription substances; however, as a recent article points out, prescription medication can also interact with over-the-counter supplements.

Supplements exist in a bit of a legal and regulatory gray area in that they are not FDA-approved to treat or diagnose any condition. In fact, the FDA is specifically prohibited from reviewing supplements for safety or efficacy. Thus, what consumers get when they purchase a supplement is somewhat a mystery and can vary depending on the manufacturer.

While the information provided by a supplement manufacturer is likely based on some type of study or belief, it is not scientifically proven. And because the FDA does not regulate supplements, there is no consistency in how they are manufactured. This means supplements that are marketed under the same name but sold by different manufacturers can have drastically different ingredients. There can even be inconsistencies between batches of supplements from the same manufacturer.

Medical mistakes, including pharmacy errors, are among the leading causes of death in the state. Notwithstanding the data showing that preventable medication errors affect nearly 7 million patients per year, most people maintain an “it could never happen to me” approach when thinking about these potentially dangerous errors. However, the reality is that anyone can fall victim to a Maryland pharmacy error.

Not all pharmacy errors are harmful, and fewer yet are fatal. In fact, most pharmacy errors are caught by another pharmacist or the patient. Of the patients who end up bringing the incorrect prescription home and taking it, few will experience immediate side effects. That, however, does not mean that the un-prescribed medication will not cause the patient harm; only that there are no immediate effects.

The best way to avoid suffering the ill effects of a Maryland pharmacy error is to prevent the mistake from happening in the first place. Of course, the duty to prevent a mistake does not ultimately rest with the patient; however, patients should still double-check all prescriptions and seek a consultation with a pharmacist when taking new prescriptions.

Included among the responsibilities of a Maryland pharmacist is the duty to ensure that the medication provided to a patient does not negatively interact with the patient’s other prescriptions. Prescription medications contain powerful drugs and many prescription medications should not be taken with other prescription medication or even over-the-counter medications.

There are several types of drug interactions, including pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic interactions. A pharmacodynamic interaction occurs when two medications that react with the same receptor site are taken at the same time. Pharmacodynamic interactions result in the ingested medications having a greater (synergistic) or decreased (antagonistic) effect, depending on the specific medications involved. Pharmacodynamic interactions can be fatal.

Pharmacokinetic interactions occur when one drug affects the body’s ability to absorb, metabolize, distribute, or eliminate another medication. For example, calcium can bind to some medications, reducing their absorption. Thus, patients are advised not to take the HIV medication Tivicay at the same time as Tums because the calcium in Tums can lower the amount Tivicay that is absorbed into the patient’s system. In this situation, doctors suggest patients take the two medications at staggered times throughout the day.

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