A new study reports that flu vaccinations are occurring more frequently in alternative settings such as pharmacies, clinics, and work, as one news source reported. According to the study, patients between the ages of 18 and 64 had higher rates of early vaccination at clinics, pharmacies, and workplaces, helping to increase the number of flu vaccinations received before November 1st. Also, high-risk patients over 65 years of age reported even higher rates of early flu vaccinations at pharmacies and work. The study’s author found that there is an association between the setting where a vaccination is received and the timing, and that non-traditional vaccination settings help to increase the rates of flu vaccinations before November 1st, a deadline set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the CDC, the 2017-2018 flu season was particularly severe, It was reported that an estimated 80,000 Americans died from the flu and its complications. These numbers included 183 pediatric deaths. It was the highest rate of death from the flu in the past four decades. The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccination as early as possible because it takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccination for the antibodies that protect against the flu to develop in the body.

Liability of Flu Shot Providers in Maryland Pharmacies and Other Alternative Settings

As more individuals in Maryland and throughout the country receive flu shots in alternative settings, providers can still be held liable for errors in dispensing the vaccine. Although many vaccinations are administered without issue, mistakes can occur, even in a routine procedure like the administration of a flu shot. For example, the incorrect dosage may be administered, a needle may be mistakenly used more than one time, side effects may not be disclosed, or the wrong vaccination may be administered. In the event of an error, some individuals may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim to recover compensation for the injuries they sustained.

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In Maryland personal injury cases, a range of damages may be available, depending on the circumstances of the case. Damages are generally divided into two categories: general damages and special damages. Special damages are awarded for the plaintiff’s economic damages, whereas general damages are awarded for noneconomic damages and other damages. Examples of special damages are medical bills, transportation costs, physical therapy, past, and future wage losses, loss of future earning capacity, diminished earning capacity, and loss of consortium. General damages can include pain and suffering, and other noneconomic damages. All of these damages are compensatory damages, which means that they are intended to compensate the plaintiff for the plaintiff’s injuries. As in any personal injury claim, in a medical error case a plaintiff must prove all of the alleged damages.

In addition to compensatory damages, some plaintiffs may be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, are meant to punish the defendant for the defendant’s conduct and to deter others from bad behavior. In those cases, a plaintiff must show that the defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongful conduct. There are caps on some types of damages in Maryland, so it is essential to consult with an attorney to understand which types and amount of damages are available.

Three-Year-Old Child Overdoses on Morphine After Pharmacy Error

Human error resulted in the recent overdose of a 3-year-old, according to one news article. The article reported that the toddler was prescribed morphine after he had tonsil surgery and had his adenoids removed and tubes put in his ears. The medical staff prescribed the toddler morphine and told the family that it was routine. The toddler’s parents filled the morphine prescription at a pharmacy without any consultation with a pharmacist. Later that day, the parents read the instructions on the medication and gave their child the medicine. According to his mother, the next morning, the toddler’s father picked him up, “and his head flopped right back.” The mother said the child was unresponsive and not breathing properly. The parents rushed the child to the hospital where doctors said that he had overdosed. The hospital staff gave him naloxone to stabilize him, and he eventually recovered.

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This blog has covered a number of the common causes of Maryland pharmacy errors in hopes of increasing patient awareness. One common cause of pharmacy errors that has not recently been discussed is when a patient’s prescription is filled multiple times.

Most often, these errors are the results of two different pharmacies each filling a prescription and providing it to the patient. These errors are more common in mail-order pharmacies than in retail pharmacies. More often than not, these errors involve elderly patients that are prescribed multiple medications and may have a difficult time reading or understanding the numerous directions they should follow.

Patient Dies after Taking Twice the Number of Pills That Were Prescribed by His Physician

Back in 2016, an older man died from what appeared to be a medication overdose. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the man was prescribed medication to control his heart, liver, and anxiety-related conditions. The medications were provided to the patient in blister packs containing 108 pills each. The patient’s prescription was supposed to include a total of four blister packs.

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Some pharmacy errors can be difficult to prove because patients are often already sick and suffering before the error. In any Maryland medical negligence claim, a plaintiff must establish the following elements: 1.) a healthcare professional owed the plaintiff a duty of care; 2.) the healthcare professional failed to meet the relevant standard of care; 3.) the plaintiff was injured as a result of that failure; and 4.) the professional’s lack of care caused the plaintiff injuries.

Proving causation means showing that the plaintiff was injured as a result of the professional’s breach of the standard of care. Simply showing that a healthcare professional did something wrong is not enough—a plaintiff must also show that the act caused the plaintiff’s injury.

The plaintiff has to prove causation by showing that it is “more probable than not” that the professional’s negligent act caused the plaintiff’s injury. This can be tricky if the patient was already suffering from health issues, or if there may have been more than one cause of the injury, for example. In a medical error case, there is almost always an underlying issue that caused the patient to receive medication, and patients often have multiple issues and several care providers. A recent study discussed some common medication safety risks in health care.

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Given the prevalence of smartphones in today’s society, as well as the fact that doctors entering the medical field today are much more likely to be tech-savvy than ever before, it is no surprise that some doctors are relying on text messaging to deliver prescriptions to pharmacies. However, some experts are concerned that prescriptions that are sent in by text message may result in a higher overall rate of pharmacy errors.

According to a recent industry news report, while texting provides some potential benefits to physicians and pharmacists alike, the medical field is not yet prepared to safely implement the practice. The article outlines several errors that are more likely to occur when a physician texts – rather than calls, faxes, or electronically submits – a prescription.

First, physicians who use text messaging to submit a prescription bypass all clinical decision-making support offered by electronic-prescribing systems. Electronic-prescribing systems show providers relevant portions of a patient’s medical record and alert prescribers to a potential adverse reaction as well as the possibility of a better-suited medication.

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The increasing number of Maryland pharmacy errors has drawn attention not just from within the industry but also more broadly from the media and lawmakers. As the population grows and pharmacies take on more patients, the number of prescriptions filled per day continues to grow exponentially. With limited space and the pressure to keep costs down, pharmacies often have a difficult time staffing enough pharmacists and technicians to safely fill patients’ prescriptions.

This is not to say that being busy is an excuse to commit an error. It isn’t. In fact, regardless of how busy a pharmacist is, how long they have been on a shift, or how many prescriptions they have filled in any given day, pharmacists always have a duty to ensure that the prescriptions they fill are accurate.

A recent industry news source discusses several common errors that are seen in pharmacies across the country. As is the case with most errors, these are based on a lack of communication, problems with data management, and issues with conveying important and technical information quickly.

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Most people assume that when they go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, the medication provided to them by the pharmacist is the same medication that their doctor prescribed. However, the reality is that each year there are thousands of reported pharmacy errors. Many of these errors result in a patient being provided the wrong drug, while others involve the pharmacist providing patients with the wrong dose or the incorrect instructions. If you believe you were injured as a result of receiving the wrong prescription medication or dosage, contact a Maryland pharmacy error attorney.

Pharmacists have a duty to ensure that the prescriptions they fill are accurate. Often, retail pharmacies are extremely busy and rely on a pharmacist technician to fill a prescription, which is then later checked by the pharmacist prior to being provided to a patient. However, during these busy times, both pharmacists and technicians are often handling multiple prescriptions and are more likely to make an error.

While the ultimate duty to ensure a patient is not given the wrong medication rests with the pharmacist, there are certain precautions patients can take to decrease the chance that they will be sent home with the wrong medication. A recent news article discusses a few of these steps, including:

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Maryland personal injury plaintiffs can bring failure-to-warn claims if a manufacturer fails to adequately warn consumers of a product’s risks. In one recent case against drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, a patient alleged that the manufacturer failed to warn consumers of its association with suicide for certain patients.

The Facts of the Case

A doctor prescribed a patient Paxil, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to treat the patient’s depression and anxiety. However, his prescription was filled with the generic version of Paxil, paroxetine. A few days later, the patient committed suicide and paroxetine was found in his system. The patient’s wife sued GSK, alleging that the manufacturer negligently failed to warn patients that paroxetine was associated with suicides in patients older than 24, and that her husband (who was 57) died as a result.

Generic drug manufacturers are required to use a label approved  by the brand-name manufacturer and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and only the brand-name manufacturer can obtain FDA approval to change the label. In this case, the brand-name manufacturer of Paxil, GSK, created the its label, and the generic drug manufacturers were required to use the same label. Labels for paroxetine warned that it was associated with suicide in patients under 24, but did not warn about an association with suicide in older patients.

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Last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the manufacturer of a popular blood-pressure medication would be recalling thousands of bottles of the medication after what appears to have been a medication mix-up. According to one news source covering the recall, Accord Healthcare announced that it would be recalling one lot of its Hydrochlorothiazide tablets in the 12.5mg dosage.

The recall was announced after a pharmacist at a local drugstore discovered that a bottle marked as containing the 12.5mg tablets of Hydrochlorothiazide tablets actually contained another medication. None of the medication was provided to patients, and the manufacturer’s initial investigation into the error did not cause them to believe that any other lots suffered from a similar error. However, out of precaution, the manufacturer recalled the entire lot that contained the bottle with the wrong medication.

The Hydrochlorothiazide tablets are round orange pills that have the letter “H” on one side, and the number “1” on the other side.

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Medical errors routinely rate among of the most frequent causes of preventable death in the United States. One of the more common types of medical errors are pharmacy misfills or prescription errors. These errors occur when a pharmacist provides a patient with the wrong medication, wrong dose, or wrong instructions.

According to one industry news source, pharmacy errors are on the rise. Evidently, the National Pharmacy Association released its most recent data which showed a 64% increase in pharmacy errors between April and June of this year. The data showed that nearly half of all of the reported pharmacy errors were caused by “workload and time pressures.”

The types of errors reported varied, but the following were some of the more common error types:

  • providing the wrong medication to the patient based on medication with similar sounding or looking names;
  • mixing up patients’ names and addresses; and
  • attaching the wrong information slip to a patient’s prescription.

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