Walgreen’s Pharmacy Misfill—Child Given Heart Medication Instead of H1N1 Antiviral Drug

Our Pharmacy Misfill Attorneys in Maryland have been following the recent news of a dangerous medication mistake made by a Walgreen’s pharmacy, where a child was given heart medication instead of an antiviral drug to treat the H1N1 flu virus.

When Wilma O’Neill picked up the prescription for her daughter earlier this month, she expected to administer an antiviral medication to help her child’s swine flu symptoms. Over the next 24 hours, O’Neill gave her daughter two doses of the Walgreen’s prescription, and only stopped the medication after the drugstore called, claiming that there had been a pharmacy medication mistake, and someone had received the wrong prescription.

O’Neill brought the prescription back to the pharmacy, where they discovered that her daughter had been given the liquid pediatric medication Amiodarone by mistake—a drug used to treat irregular rapid heartbeats. According to Medline Plus, the U.S. National Library of Medicine on-line service, Amiodarone is used to treat and prevent life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms by relaxing overactive heart muscles, and is used only when other medications are not tolerated. The first few doses should reportedly be administered in a hospital setting, as the medication could cause fatal side effects. The child had been given two times the normal dosage of the actual heart medication, which could have resulted in pharmacy error injury.

O’Neill’s daughter was raced to the emergency room, and monitored carefully. Her EKG was initially normal, and then irregular a day later. O’Neill believes that had the mistake not been realized, the outcome could have been much worse, as her daughter was also very sick with the H1N1 virus.

Walgreen’s acknowledged the mistake and apologized for the error. The company didn’t disclose how the error was discovered, but claimed to have numerous safety checks in place in the drugstore to reduce the possibility of human error. In 2007, Walgreen’s was profiled in a the news program “20/20” for making prescription drug errors, after a child was mistakenly given an adult blood-pressure drug by the pharmacy. The child was rushed to the emergency room after weeks of taking the medicine with delirium symptoms and shaking limbs.

According to the CDC more people die every year from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS. In a study published in The Lancet from 1998, medication error deaths doubled in 10 years—to nearly 7,000—from mislabeled prescriptions, accidental poisonings, and medication errors occurring either in or out of the hospital. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports that preventable medical error deaths can total as many as 98,000 every year.

At Lebowitz and Mzhen LLC, our attorneys are committed to making sure that pharmacy misfill victims and their loved ones receive the personal injury compensation they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Ceres Walgreen’s Gives Child Heart Meds by Mistake, The Modesto Bee, November 10, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Medline Plus Drug Information: Amiodarone
Increase in US Medication-error Deaths Between 1983 and 1993, The Lancet, May 30, 1998
To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System, Institute of Medicine, 1999
National Center for Health Care Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control:
Deaths/Mortality, 2005
Institute for Healthcare Improvement: Campaign (FAQs)

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