While a Maryland pharmacy error can result in serious and even fatal consequences for any patient, the very young are at an especially high risk. This is a frightening thought, considering that pharmacy errors are much more common than most people believe. Indeed, it is estimated that there are over 63,000 medication errors involving child patients each year. This amounts to one error approximately every eight minutes.

Clear PillsResearchers have noted that the most common type of medication error involving a child patient is when the prescribed medication is an analgesic or a cold/cough syrup. Commonly, these medications result in the pharmacist providing patients with a double-dose of the prescribed medication. That being said, it is not unheard of for a pharmacist to give a parent the wrong medication altogether.

When a pharmacist error results in patient harm, the injured patient may be able to pursue a claim for compensation through a Maryland pharmacy error lawsuit. While proving that an error was made is not necessarily difficult in many cases, establishing that the error resulted in a patient’s injuries can be challenging. For this reason, many pharmacy error cases require expert testimony to help prove causation.

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Shingles is a viral disease characterized by a skin rash consisting of painful blisters that usually appear in a strip across a person’s face or body. While the symptoms of Shingles will usually go away within a few weeks, some experience nerve pain that can last years.

Shingles VaccineThe disease is caused by a reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the initial exposure of which causes chicken pox. The reason why the VZV virus reactivates is not widely understood by the medical community, although it is understood to occur more in the elderly and those with a compromised immune system.

There have been several vaccines created to prevent Shingles. As of 2017, a new vaccine called Shingrix was approved for patients over 50 years of age and can prevent most cases of Shingles. Once Shingrix was approved for use, it later became the preferred vaccine according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Unfortunately, it has been involved in Maryland pharmacy errors and errors in other states.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case brought by the parents of an 18-year-old man who died of an illegal drug overdose while at the defendant’s residence. The case presents interesting issues that may arise in Maryland personal injury cases in that it illustrates the well-known dangers of illegal drugs as well as touches on the theory of premises liability as it pertains to drug use in a defendant’s home.

Illegal DrugsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving loved one of a young man who died of an illegal overdose of illegally obtained drugs. The evidence presented at trial showed that the victim met up with one of the tenants who lived in the defendant’s home, purchased ketamine and acid, and brought the drugs back to the defendant’s home.

The facts were somewhat disputed, but it was uncontested that several people, including the plaintiffs’ son, took the ketamine. Within minutes, the plaintiffs’ son began acting odd, and he was told to leave by the tenants. The young man was found dead later that day. The cause of death was determined to be an overdose of ketamine.

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While the exact number of Maryland pharmacy errors is disputed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers a conservative estimate of approximately 7,000 deaths per year due to medication errors. Due to lenient reporting requirements in the pharmacy industry and the industry’s interest in keeping errors out of the mainstream news, experts believe that the true number of errors is much higher. Some reports suggest that upwards of 1.3 million people are harmed each year by prescription errors.

Extra Strength PillsPrescription errors have a number of potential causes. However, like most mistakes, the most common cause is that the pharmacist filling the prescription overlooked something they shouldn’t have. Poor communication between health care professionals plays a role in many pharmacy errors. Along those lines, pharmacists will often misinterpret a physician’s abbreviations, either prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong dose. Mistakes are also commonly made involving drugs with similar-sounding names.

Each of these situations involves one common variable:  a negligent pharmacist. Undoubtedly, most of the pharmacists who are responsible for pharmacy errors are well-intentioned. However, given the everyday stress and steady workload, many pharmacists end up taking short cuts that can hurt their patients.

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The chances are that anyone who has dropped off a prescription or refill request to a retail pharmacy has had to wait a considerable amount of time for the pharmacist to fill the prescription. First, the patient must wait in line to drop off the prescription. Then, the pharmacist often tells a patient to come back in at least 30 minutes – sometimes even longer.

White PillsWhile waiting 30 or 45 minutes for a prescription to be filled isn’t a problem for most patients, the fact that a pharmacy is so busy raises some concerns for pharmacy experts. According to a recent news report discussing the prevalence of errors and what can be done to curb them in the future, it is estimated that there are approximately 100,000 deaths caused by pharmacy errors each year. The leading cause of Maryland pharmacy errors is commonly understood to be an overworked pharmacist.

The article details the startling account of a woman who was provided the wrong medication by her local pharmacy. The woman was prescribed the pain medication Gabapentin. Her physician instructed the woman to take the medication three times a day, taking two pills for each dose.

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Prescription errors can have devastating consequences for people of any age. The wrong dosage or medication can have long-lasting consequences and, in some cases, can be fatal. A recent article shows how children may be at greater risk for prescription errors in some circumstances. Since some medication is produced at dosages that are too high for children, they have to be reduced. The process of creating a smaller dosage is another opportunity for prescribers and pharmacists to make mistakes and for miscommunications to occur.

Child in HospitalIn the case of a Maryland prescription error, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant was negligent by failing to meet the relevant standard of care. An example of this might be a pharmacist’s failure to administer the prescribed dosage. In these cases, a plaintiff may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.

Article Reveals Life-Threatening Errors in Administration of Flecainide to Children

Flecainide, an oral antiarrythmic drug, can be prescribed to treat supraventricular tachycardia or atrial fibrillation. However, it is only available commercially in doses of 50 mg, 100 mg, and 150 mg, so when given to infants and small children, who require smaller doses, it has to be given in the form of a suspension. A recent article discusses how there have been life-threatening errors during the preparation of the suspension, resulting in serious overdoses.

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When a pharmacist incorrectly fills a patient’s prescription, the problem created is two-fold. First, the patient often ends up taking medication that was not prescribed to them. Of course, depending on the type of medication involved, this can cause serious side effects. In some cases, the damage caused by taking this unprescribed medication can result in life-long effects.

White PillsThe other danger involved in a Maryland pharmacy error is that the patient is not receiving the medication that they were prescribed. In most cases, a physician prescribes medication to a patient because it is imperative for the patient’s health. If a patient does not take prescribed medication based on a pharmacist’s error, or if the patient takes unprescribed medication due to a pharmacist’s error, the pharmacist may be held liable for any injuries that result.

In some cases, a patient realizes that they have been taking the incorrect medication based on the symptoms they are experiencing or after double-checking the prescription label. However, one of the problems that the victims of pharmacy errors often encounter is that they may not experience symptoms of the error immediately. Or, if they do experience some symptoms, they may not link the new symptoms to an undiscovered pharmacy error.

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Medical errors, including Maryland pharmacy errors, are commonly believed to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States. However, the actual number of pharmacy errors is up for debate because, as is the case in Maryland, most states do not require pharmacists to report the vast majority of the errors that occur.

Blister PackUnder the laws of most states, pharmacists need only report errors that end up causing an “adverse medical event.” Essentially, this means that an error does not need to be reported unless the patient suffers some kind of harm as a result of the error. Thus, errors that are caught before the medication is delivered to the patient do not need to be reported.

It is widely believed, however, that the best way to reduce errors is to learn from common mistakes. In most professions, the industry can learn from many common errors as a whole, meaning that pharmacists in Maryland may develop a better way to prevent an error and can share that new method with other pharmacists nationwide. However, in order for that learning process to work, pharmacists must be open about the number and types of errors.

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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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