Prescription errors can have lasting effects for Maryland patients. In a recent case, the parents of a two-month-old child brought a lawsuit against a doctor, alleging that the doctor improperly treated their child with the drug Reglan.

Young DoctorAccording to the court’s opinion, the child was referred to the pediatric gastroenterologist doctor for gastrointestinal issues, and the doctor diagnosed him with severe gastroesophageal reflux disease. The doctor continued to see the child for about a year and a half, and he prescribed him different medications, including Reglan. Reglan is normally recommended for a maximum of 12 weeks, except in cases in which the benefits outweigh the risks. The doctor later testified that he believed the benefits outweighed the risks in this case, and he attempted to wean the child off the drug, but his symptoms would reappear when he did so.

About a year and a half after his diagnosis, the child’s mother began noticing problems with the child’s development, including standing, balancing, and developmental delays. After she heard about the side effects of Reglan on a commercial, she brought up her concerns to the child’s primary care doctor. The gastroenterologist doctor subsequently told the primary care doctor to stop the Reglan prescription, due to the mother’s concerns.

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Prescription medications are controlled by the government for good reason. Indeed, many prescription drugs are dangerous substances that are only approved for use under strict conditions for very specific applications. It may be that a prescription drug negatively interacts with other commonly consumed medications, or that the medication itself easily leads to dependency and addiction. The bottom line is that prescription medication can be dangerous, and pharmacists and manufacturers should take all steps necessary to prevent Maryland pharmacy errors.

Spilled PillsOne of the most important tools pharmacists can use to decrease the chance of a serious or fatal prescription error is to make sure that the label affixed to the prescription is correct and written in plain English so that the patient can understand the directions. According to a recent news report, experts have been studying the impact that label design has on a patient’s likelihood of experiencing an error. The study found that patients are experiencing errors even with properly filled medications due to confusing medication labels.

For example, the article discusses a situation in which a woman was prescribed a patch containing pain medication to help with her arthritis. The label indicated the woman should apply the patch when she feels pain, but it did not specify how many patches to use at one time. The woman’s family later discovered that she had been using the pain patches all over her body, effectively overdosing on the medication contained in the patch.

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While many Maryland pharmacy errors occur at the thousands of retail pharmacies across the state, a large portion of the state’s overall pharmacy errors still occur in medical settings, such as hospitals, rehab facilities, and nursing homes. In fact, according to a recent study, some hospital patients’ medical records reveal as many as seven pharmacy errors. Of course, while not all of these are clinically significant, the trend is still disturbing.

Doctor's White CoatDue to the number of pharmacy errors across the nation, as well as the potential that these errors can result in serious injuries or death, researchers have undertaken renewed efforts to discover new methods to decrease the rate of pharmacy errors. One place researchers are focusing their efforts is on patients who take a large number of prescription medications, based on the assumption that this population is at the greatest risk of experiencing an error.

According to a recent study, when pharmacists, rather than medical staff, take a patient’s history, the number of errors in subsequent prescriptions is drastically reduced. The way that many hospitals operate is that the job of entering a patient’s history belongs to anyone who works with the patient. While this may sound effective in that numerous medical professionals are reviewing a patient’s history, the result is that no single person feels accountable. However, when a single pharmacist is given the task of entering a patient’s history, that pharmacist is the sole person accountable, and as a result, the instances of errors drastically decrease.

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Maryland pharmacy errors occur far more often than most believe. In fact, it is estimated that upwards of five percent of all prescriptions filled contain some error. Of course, most of these errors are caught before a patient ingests the medication. However, some Maryland pharmacy errors can cause serious side effects that may carry life-long consequences.

Pill BottlesEarlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion in a pharmacy error case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case was sufficient to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defendant pharmacy. After reviewing the evidence, the court concluded that since the plaintiff was unable to prove that the pharmacist or another employee failed to offer medication counseling at the time the prescription was picked up, the plaintiff’s case could not proceed toward trial.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff suffered from several serious medical conditions and was prescribed medication by his physician. The plaintiff’s wife went to the defendant pharmacy to pick up her husband’s medication, and she was given a bag containing two bottles. She did not know it at the time, but the bottles did not have her husband’s name on them.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Utah issued a written opinion in a personal injury case presenting an issue that often arises in Maryland pharmacy error and medical malpractice cases. The issue was whether the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony should be excluded from evidence because it was late-filed, and if so, whether the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed for failing to present necessary evidence.

StopwatchThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff sued her pharmacy, claiming that it overprescribed drugs. However, at the time she filed the case, the plaintiff did not designate any expert who would be testifying in support of her case. It was not until the day of the summary judgment hearing that the plaintiff presented the court with the name and information of her expert witness.

Upon the defendant’s motion, the court precluded the plaintiff’s expert from testifying, finding that the expert’s information was provided well past the discovery deadline. After striking the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony, the court then determined that the plaintiff was unable to prove her claim against the pharmacy and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.

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The online retail giant Amazon recently announced that it would soon be entering the pharmacy business. With Amazon’s impressive delivery network, the company believes that it has a service to offer those who would otherwise need to travel to the nearest pharmacy to fill their prescription. Some believe that Amazon’s entrance into the pharmacy business may reduce the number of Maryland prescription errors.

pillsDue to the volume of transactions that Amazon handles annually, some are seeing Amazon’s entrance into the pharmacy business as an opportunity for the industry to make major strides toward a safer process. The idea is that Amazon has the clout necessary to make pharmaceutical companies make changes to the way drugs are packaged and marketed.

According to a recent industry news report, the leading cause of pharmacy errors is inadvertence. Simply stated, most pharmacy errors are results of a busy pharmacist grabbing the wrong medication because its name or packaging is so similar to the medication the patient requires. And, according to the article, drug manufacturers have little reason to change because they are not normally held liable for errors. However, the article notes that as Amazon enters the business, the company may be able to use its influence to require manufacturers to make changes to the way companies package and market their drugs, potentially resulting in an overall decrease in the amount of pharmacy errors.

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As is the case with most professions, becoming a pharmacist involves not only getting an education but also obtaining the necessary hands-on experience. Of course, as medical professionals, pharmacists are responsible for the safety of their patients, and any Maryland pharmacy error made by a trainee can have potentially drastic consequences for a patient’s health. Thus, normally, pharmacists in training are closely supervised to ensure that any mistakes they make are caught and fixed before the prescription is passed on to the patient. However, providing this level of supervision is costly to pharmacists, and too often efficiency is favored over safety.

White PillsIn a recent article discussing the high frequency of pharmacy errors and potential ways to cut back on the number of errors, it was suggested that pharmacists may make fewer mistakes once they are certified to work on their own if they are allowed to make mistakes in training. The proposition is not a surprising one, since it has often been said that “practice makes perfect.” However, in the context of the medical field, patients rightfully expect “perfect” performance when it comes to filling their prescriptions.

The article discusses one pharmacist’s experiences in training and proposes a method to ensure that pharmacists in training are able to make the mistakes they need to make and learn from them. For example, the pharmacist explained that he would have to fill 1,000 prescriptions in a row without an error before he could move on to his next exercise. If he made a single error anywhere along the way, he would start back at zero. He explained the frustrating in reaching 200 prescriptions several times, only to make a minor error.

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Pharmacy errors present a serious risk of injury not just to patients who take medication that they need to keep them healthy but also to anyone who fills a prescription. In many cases, Maryland pharmacy errors involve a patient being provided with a dangerous medication that they were not prescribed. This can result in a wide range of dangerous side effects, up to and including death.

Blister PacksGiven the risks involved, pharmacists generally take their job very seriously and want to ensure that their patients are given exactly the medication and dosage they are prescribed. However, pharmacies are for-profit corporations that exist to make money. And by scheduling fewer pharmacists, the pharmacy is spending less in labor costs and can keep more of the money it receives.

According to a recent news report, some pharmacists have recently expressed frustration with the fact that they are pressured to fill prescriptions quickly, focusing more on filling a large number of prescriptions than making sure the prescriptions that are filled are accurate. These employees told reporters that they felt as though their employers viewed the occasional pharmacy error as a “cost of doing business.”

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Prescription errors can have devastating consequences for Maryland patients. These types of errors can be caused by a number of different issues, including writing the wrong prescription and dispensing the wrong medication. Some of these errors may be reduced by changing something as simple as the packaging of the medication. Some drugs have similar names, and other bottles look alike, increasing the likelihood of error. Experts are pushing companies to make changes in cases of confusing labeling, naming, and packaging.

Medicine CaseIn a prescription error case, an individual must show that the defendant was negligent in doing or failing to do something by failing to meet the standard of care required. This might include failing to properly read the label on a medication bottle. However, industry experts are working to help medical professionals avoid such errors.

FDA Guidance Seeks to Reduce Errors Due to Labeling and Packaging

Look-alike and sound-alike medications increase the likelihood of prescription errors, according to one news source. One report found that 33 percent of all medication errors and 30 percent of deaths from medication errors resulted from issues with medication labeling and packaging.

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In the pharmacy world, it is well-known that diabetic patients are among those with the highest risk of being victims of Maryland medication errors. This is due mostly to the fact that diabetic patients are often required to take several medications in a very specific dose, as well as the fact that a failure to get the medication (or too large a dose of the medication) will likely result in an adverse health event.

Diabetes SuppliesAccording to a recent study, those patients who suffer from Type 1 diabetes are more likely than patients with Type 2 diabetes to experience a medication error. The study followed 671 diabetic adults who were admitted to the hospital. Researchers tracked the patients from admission until discharge and double-checked each administration of medication. As it turned out, about 30% of patients experience at least one error.

The most common type of error accounted for roughly 60% of all errors and was an error of omission. When this type of error occurs, a patient is not given the medication that they were prescribed by their physician. Other common error types were wrongly added medications and improperly administered medications.

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