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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.

When a pharmacist makes a mistake in the process of filling a patient’s order, there is a high likelihood that the patient will experience adverse effects or symptoms. Occasionally, a Maryland pharmacy error results in permanent injuries or even death. The extent of the damage caused by a pharmacy error depends on several factors, including the type and dose of medication that was given to the patient, as well as the patient’s age and health.

Pharmacy errors involving children and the elderly tend to be the most serious because these populations have fragile immune systems and may not be able to effectively communicate what they are feeling. While the burden to double-check all prescriptions often ends up resting with the adults who supervise young children and the elderly, the actual duty rests with the pharmacist to get it right in the first place.

As medical professionals, pharmacists have a duty to their patients. This duty requires pharmacists to accurately fill prescriptions and offer consultations to patients who seek advice. When a patient is harmed due to a pharmacist’s mistake, that patient is entitled to pursue a claim against the pharmacy, seeking compensation for the injuries caused by the error.

Medical errors are consistently ranked as one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with some estimating that as many as 440,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors. One of the more common medical mistakes are pharmacy errors that occur in retail and hospital pharmacies. Pharmacy errors can be harmful not only when patients have a negative interaction with the unprescribed drug but also when a patient fails to get the necessary medication.

Pharmacists are highly educated and well-trained medical professionals, like doctors, dentists, or nurses. Because of this, pharmacists have a professional duty to ensure that their patients are provided the correct medication, in the right dose, with the appropriate instructions. When a pharmacist makes an error, and a patient suffers as a result, the patient may be able to pursue a Maryland pharmacy error lawsuit against the negligent pharmacist as well as the pharmacy where the error occurred.

Given the prevalence of pharmacy errors, significant effort has been devoted to understanding the cause of these errors. It has been determined that certain medications are more likely to be involved in a medication error. Typically, these are medications that have similarly spelled or pronounced names as other drugs. Industry professionals call these look-alike sound-alike drugs, or LASA drugs. The most dangerous LASA drugs are those that share their names with drugs that have adverse interactions with other commonly prescribed drugs. A few examples of LASA drugs are:

Most Maryland pharmacies receive medication from a manufacturer or reseller and then fill prescriptions as patients present them. For the most part, pharmacies are not responsible for creating the medications that they provide to patients. Some patients, however, have unique needs that are not met by commercially available drugs. For example, a young child may need a very small dose of a medication that is only available in adult doses, or a patient may be allergic to a particular ingredient in a medication.

While compounding pharmacies fill a much-needed role for some patients, they also present unique risks. Generally, compounding pharmacists attempt to mimic the effects of a particular medication while making some adjustments to the formulation. Because compounding pharmacies create custom prescriptions for patients on an as-needed basis, their product is not FDA-tested or approved.

A recent news report discusses a compounding pharmacy medication error that nearly claimed the life of the patient who thought she was taking the medication as directed. Evidently, the patient suffered from a rare disease called Hashimoto’s disease, a condition in which a patient’s immune system attacks the thyroid, resulting in insufficient hormone levels. As a result of her condition, the woman was prescribed thyroid medication by her physician.

Over the past few years, local Maryland pharmacies have seen a gradual increase in the number of prescriptions that are filled each year. However, pharmacies have been slow to adjust the number of pharmacists with this increase in demand. As a result, pharmacists are dealing with increased workloads.

For quite some time, experts have agreed that as a pharmacist’s workload increases, the likelihood of an error also increases. Some believe that new technology can help pharmacists more accurately and quickly fill prescriptions. According to a recent industry news report, by using state-of-the-art technology to fill orders, pharmacists can free up nearly 90 minutes per day.

Generally, when appropriate technology is used to fill prescriptions, there seems to be a reduction in the error rate. However, some skeptics point to the learning curve that implementing new technology presents, raising a concern that patient safety may be jeopardized as pharmacists get accustomed to frequent changes in the workplace.

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