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Maryland medication errors occur all too frequently and can have dire consequences for patients. The most recent study conducted by the Institute of Medicine found in 2013 that medical errors caused between 210,000 to 440,000 deaths per year. Of course, an exact number is difficult to determine because medical records are not always complete, and providers can be reluctant to disclose mistakes. In 2014, one study found adverse drug events were one of the most common medical errors in the country.

Errors involving what are known as “look alike, sound alike” (LASA) medications involve medications that sound similar or look similar in appearance, packaging, or in the names of the medications. Such drugs pose a higher risk of medication errors. As one recent article found, “Depo-” medications are often the subject of medication errors. There are several medications on the market today that begin with the prefix “Depo-.” The prefix means that the medication is administered via a depot injection that deposits the drug into tissue. However, people have consistently mixed up different “Depo-” medications with one another. Some of the most common errors are: “Depo-Provera,” “Depo-Subq-provera 104,” and “Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection”; with “Depo-Medrol,” and with “Depo-Testosterone.”

For example, according to a recent news report, a physician mistakenly injected a patient with Depo-Provera instead of Depo-Medrol in 2015, after the medication had been inadvertently stored in a bin where Depo-Medrol was normally kept. In another case, a patient was injected with Depo-Medrol instead of Depo-Provera, which she was being given for contraception. The patient became pregnant as a result of the mistake. In that case, the staff person had mistakenly taken a vial of the drug where both drugs were stored next to each other.

All Maryland personal injury claims, including pharmaceutical claims, are subject to a statute of limitations, which indicates how long after an accident or injury a plaintiff has to file suit against the responsible party. In most cases, the statute of limitations is three years. Waiting too long to file a suit can bar Maryland plaintiffs from recovering, so it is important to be aware of the relevant statute of limitations and file suit in a timely manner when injured.

In cases where the injury was caused by a medication, knowing when the statute of limitations begins can be difficult. Plaintiffs want to push the start point forward, saying the clock did not begin until they knew about their injury, even if it technically happened weeks, months, or years, later. On the other hand, pharmaceutical companies will likely argue that the statute of limitations began to run before the plaintiff even knew about the issue. Oftentimes, the outcome of this disagreement determines whether or not the plaintiff recovers for their injuries.

Take a recent state supreme court case as an example. According to the court’s written opinion, the two plaintiffs, young men, were both prescribed Risperdal for mental health issues in 1997 and 1998. The first plaintiff started experiencing increased breast size, extreme weight gain, and psychological distress in 2001. The second plaintiff suffered from weight gain and diabetes as well, and in 1998 also perceived breast development and psychological distress. The two filed suit against the drug manufacturer and pharmaceutical company, claiming that they failed to warn plaintiffs about the potential of developing Gynecomastia, an endocrine disorder that causes the growth and swelling of the breast tissue in males. The defendants responded by filing a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the statute of limitations had passed. According to the defendants, the statute of limitations had begun almost eight years before the plaintiffs filed suit. The plaintiffs, on the other hand, argued that they did not know about their condition and thus could not have filed suit during that time, and that the statute of limitations did not actually begin until much later.

A recent tragic case of a wrong prescription given to a patient illustrates the potential dangers and long-term consequences of Maryland pharmacy errors. According to a local news report covering the incident, the patient was suffering from an eye infection in November 2018, and he was prescribed Tobramycin-Dexamethasone, which are eye drops to treat infections. However, after five days of putting the drops into his eyes, the patient realized that it was not the right medication.

Looking at the back of the box given to him, he noticed that it said “for ears only.” As it turns out, the pharmacy had given him Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfates and Hydrocortisone Otic Solution, which are ear drops, used to treat ear infections. These drops should never be put into eyes and can have long-term consequences.

After discovering the mistake, the patient went to the emergency room and saw an emergency ophthalmologist. At this point, his eyes were swelling severely and were bright red. Unfortunately, almost a year later, the patient is still suffering from the error. The glands behind his eyelids are clogged up, forming pimples and causing him pain. He has been taking medication to treat this condition and may require surgery in the future.

After a patient is prescribed a medication by their doctor, they assume that the medication provided by the pharmacy will help their condition. However, statistics show that there are a frightening number of pharmacy errors each year. Indeed, according to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that nearly 50 percent of all patients will experience a pharmacy error at some point in their life.

As is the case with most accidents, there are several causes of pharmacy errors. One cause that has garnered significant attention over the past few years is the lax reporting requirements following a pharmacy error. In most states, including Maryland, a pharmacist who discovers that he made an error is not required to report the error. It is only in certain, limited situations that the error must be reported. Experts believe that implementing stricter reporting requirements may bring to light common errors, as well as ways to improve patient safety.

Some states are working to create stricter pharmacy error reporting requirements. According to a recent news report, Ohio lawmakers recently passed a law requiring pharmacists to report prescription errors that harm or kill patients because of reckless behavior or unprofessional conduct. In determining whether to pass the law, lawmakers reviewed data suggesting that there were two deaths and 31 cases of serious injuries in the state over just the past four years. Under the new law, a pharmacist’s failure to report an error could result in disciplinary action, a suspension of their license, required additional coursework, monetary fines, and potentially the revocation of the pharmacist’s license.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) is warning pharmacists and medical practitioners about the potentially severe consequences of using abbreviations for drug names. Their recent report, submitted to the National Medication Errors Reporting Program, sheds crucial light onto one way in which patients could be injured by a Maryland pharmacy error—through miscommunications and mix-ups based on drug abbreviations.

For example, according to an article discussing the ISMP’s report, one commonly confusing abbreviation is “tPA,” which refers to “tissue plasminogen activator alteplase (Activase).” In one situation, an urgent order for alteplase for a patient in an intensive care unit (ICU) was sent to the pharmacy. A nurse from the ICU called the pharmacy to ask if the “tPA” was ready, but the pharmacist, who was newly hired and unfamiliar with the abbreviation tPA, thought the request was for “TPN,” or “total parenteral nutrition.” The pharmacist then told the nurse that the drug would be there in a few minutes, since they were currently mixing parenteral nutrition solutions.

Later that day, when the needed alteplase did not arrive, the ICU nurse called the pharmacy again. Another pharmacist answered, saw the urgent order in the database, and began to dispense a dosage of the drug. Unfortunately, in her rush, she forgot to mix the drug according to the protocol for inpatient use and was delayed while re-dispensing and mixing the drug. This delay, since the drug was already delayed due to the abbreviation mix-up earlier, led to the hospital calling a rapid response team for the patient in question.

Vaccinations are incredibly important to the health and safety of the human population. In fact, vaccinating one’s child is one of the most critical things that a parent can do to protect them and others from many diseases. However, as with any medication or injection, vaccinations do come with some slight risks of Maryland pharmacy errors and injuries or even death.

Understanding the risks and the importance of vaccinations, Congress enacted the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in 1986 so that those affected by vaccine-related injuries or the vaccine-related death of a loved one can petition to receive compensation for the tragic incident. Vaccine injury claims can only be litigated through this system, administered by the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. In the 43 years since the system began, $4.2 billion in compensation has been awarded to claimants.

There are two ways to qualify for compensation under the program. The first, and easier, way is to establish an injury listed on the Vaccine Act’s injury table that occurred within a designated period after the vaccine was received. If this can be shown, causation is presumed, and compensation is awarded. Injuries on the table include anaphylaxis, chronic arthritis, shoulder injuries, and paralytic polio.

For a parent, almost nothing is scarier than having your child be sick and in need of hospitalization. Unfortunately, parents across Maryland face this reality every day, relying on children’s hospitals and wards to protect their infants and children. Hospitals are supposed to keep their patients safe and take care of them to the best of their abilities, but, tragically, sometimes mistakes happen, jeopardizing the health and livelihood of young patients. One common type of mistake is pharmacy errors, when the incorrect medication or dosage is given to one or more patient. These errors are particularly concerning when the patients are infants or children, particularly vulnerable and potentially unable to communicate when something feels wrong.

When pharmacy errors happen, the results can be tragic, potentially leading to severe health concerns or even death. That risk is increased when the mistake is not immediately discovered, but rather continues to happen. For example, a children’s hospital in Cincinnati recently admitted to mistakenly giving several patients a wrongly mixed batch of blood pressure medication. According to a local news report covering the tragic incident, one of the victims affected is an 11-month-old baby, who received 54 doses of the incorrectly mixed drug. Each dose was ten times stronger than required, and although the infant survived, he suffered kidney damage as a result.

The hospital has not released much additional information. At this time, it is unknown how many other patients received the incorrect medication, for how long, or what adverse outcomes occurred. The hospital has also not made clear whether the incorrectly mixed medication was created in its own pharmacy or received from an outside supplier.

With flu season approaching, many individuals across Maryland are headed to get their flu shots to try and protect themselves, their families, and their communities. Indeed, getting a flu shot is typically one of the safest and healthiest things you can do. Unfortunately, however, getting any shot, including the flu shot, always comes with some risks. Sometimes medical professionals may make a mistake, or pharmacy mishaps can happen, leading to individuals getting injected with the wrong medicine.

For instance, ten individuals were hospitalized earlier this month when they were given the wrong shot. According to a local news report covering the incident, a group home for developmentally disabled individuals brought in health professionals to give flu shots to residents and staff, to protect the home from the flu as much as possible. However, the vial containing the flu vaccine actually contained insulin, and the insulin was mistakenly injected into patients. As a result of the mix-up, ten people had to be transported to the hospital.

This tragic story highlights that, unfortunately, even well-trained medical professionals can make, or be a part of, a pharmacy mistake. According to the police, the person giving the shots at the group home had been practicing pharmacy for 40 years. Authorities are still not sure how the mix-up happened, but as of right now believe it to be a terrible mistake.

According to a national news report, several retailers and pharmacy chains are suspending the sale of Zantac, a popular heartburn medication. The decision was made after concerns arose that the drug may contain a substance that can cause cancer. The makers of the drug face a potential class-action lawsuit, and other Maryland pharmacy error lawsuits may arise from those suffering the adverse effects of the drug.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), doctors routinely prescribe Zantac to treat heartburn and stomach acidity issues. Potential issues with the medication arose shortly after approval for mass distribution in the 1980s. However, the FDA did not provide medical professionals with the warning until they discovered that the carcinogenic agent ranged from 3,000 to over 25,000 times the approved limit. The agent has been linked to cancers of the lung, kidneys, bladder, and stomach. Additionally, the toxic agent is related to liver scarring, fibrosis and tumors. The FDA has not issued a formal recall notice, nor did they tell patients to stop taking the product, however, many national retailers have pulled the medication and replaced it with generic versions that lack the specific impurity. This, however, has brought up concerns regarding the safety and efficacy of prescription drugs whose generic equivalents are manufactured in foreign counties where the FDA typically lacks adequate oversight.

Although the FDA has not recalled Zantac, several drugstores voluntarily removed the product, likely in an attempt to avoid liability if the product eventually gets recalled. Those injured after taking a dangerous drug may seek damages for injuries in instances where a product has been recalled but a retailer or hospital does not abide by the notice. Patients and consumers may suffer serious injuries such as permanent organ damage, cancer, and even death when a party fails to comply with a recall notice. Moreover, manufacturers cannot escape liability just because they issue a recall. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers may still face liability if they did not adequately issue the recall, provide appropriate warnings and remedies, or abide by the recall notice. Patients should heed the warnings from the FDA and their doctors about specific medications. If they do not abide by the warnings and suffer injuries, they may face difficulties holding the responsible parties liable for their damages.

When a pharmacist incorrectly fills a patient’s prescription, the pharmacist may be liable to the patient for any injuries that occur as a result of the medical error. However, in a Maryland pharmacy error lawsuit, a patient must be able to prove not just that an error was made, but that the pharmacist’s error caused them harm. While this may sound simple in theory, in practice the issues of causation and damages often raise significant hurdles.

Take, for example, a recent pharmacy error. According to a recent article, a patient was given a prescription for “Potassium Citrate ER 10 MEQ (1080mg) CR-TABS” after having a procedure to remove several kidney stones. The hospital printed out the correct prescription, and the patient took the prescription to be filled at a satellite location of the hospital pharmacy. However, upon taking it to the pharmacy, the patient was provided with “Potassium CL 10 MEQ 120.”

According to the man’s claim, the hospital’s pharmacy later called a local Rite-Aid to transfer the prescription, at his request. However, rather than calling in the correct prescription, the hospital pharmacy called in the Potassium CL 10 MEQ 120 pills. The man continued to take the medication for seven months, refilling the prescription each month. In total, the patient took the wrong medication for 10 months. During this time, the patient continued to form kidney stones, requiring additional treatment.

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