Articles Posted in Common Errors

As pharmacies have become busier and busier over the past few decades, many suburban pharmacies have begun to offer drive-up service. For many busy patients, drive-up windows are a convenient way to drop off or pick up prescriptions, voiding the need to park and get out of the car. However, conducting such important business through a drive-up window may increase the risks of a Maryland pharmacy error.

A recent case illustrates a common pharmacy error that occurred through a drive-up window. According to an industry news source that analyzed the court’s opinion, a woman intended on picking up two prescriptions for her husband through the defendant pharmacy’s drive-up window. The woman’s husband had Alzheimer’s Disease and high blood pressure. Rather than providing the woman with her husband’s prescribed medication, the pharmacist at the drive-up window gave her alprazolam and sertraline. Both drugs were intended for a patient with the same last name as the woman’s husband.

The woman took the medication home and administered it to her husband. Within a few hours, she woke up to her husband calling her name. She found him lying on the floor, and he could not get up. There were no tripping hazards nearby. It was later determined that he sustained a broken hip in the fall.

Over the past few decades, the demand placed on Maryland pharmacies has skyrocketed. The workload of the average pharmacist has correspondingly increased. In an attempt to keep the system working efficiently, pharmacies have begun to rely more and more on technology to help with filling prescriptions. This includes checking for prescribing errors and potential adverse reactions.

One of the most notable advancements is the widespread use of electronic prescribing and medication administration. The concept behind electronic prescribing and medication administration is that doctors and pharmacists can electronically input a patient’s prescription rather than rely on a “paper trail,” as used to be the case.

As a recent article points out, however, there may be unintended consequences of the widespread use of electronic prescribing and medication administration. The study reviewed the pharmacy staff’s daily behaviors before and after the implementation of an electronic prescribing and medication administration system. According to researchers, the new system may be linked to an increase in medication errors — the study based this conclusion on several data points.

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Medication errors are believed to be one of the leading causes of death across the United States. Indeed, there have been countless studies focusing on the causes of pharmacy errors and the best ways to reduce them. However, the fact remains that medication errors result in over 3.5 million hospitalizations each year, with over a million of those to the emergency room.

The exact number of patients harmed by Maryland pharmacy errors is difficult to determine. In part, this is due to the lax reporting requirements. In Maryland, as is common across the United States, pharmacists are not required to report most of their errors, and do so only voluntarily.

According to a recent investigative report, pharmacy errors are routinely swept under the rug and kept out of the public eye. The report recounts the case of a man who died after ingesting the wrong medication that he obtained from his local pharmacy. The man’s autopsy report confirmed that the pills on the bottle did not match those which he was prescribed. However, pharmacist “neither admitted or denied” the allegations, and was ultimately fined $3,000.

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Pharmacy errors can be the result of any number of failures in the medication delivery system. More often than not, however, Maryland pharmacy errors are the result of human error. One of the most commonly cited causes of prescription drug errors is when a pharmacist provides a patient with a medication that has a similar name to the medication the patient was prescribed. In the pharmacy industry, these medications are referred to as look-alike sound-alike (LASA) drugs

According to the Food and Drug Administration, LASA medications are involved in about 41% of all fatal pharmacy errors. An example of two medications that are commonly mixed up and have been placed on the list of LASA medications are Aricept (a drug designed for Alzheimer’s disease), Azilect (an anti-depressant used to treat Parkinson’s disease), and Aciphex (a prescription used to treat acid reflux and stomach ulcers).

Of course, pharmacists have a duty to ensure that they are providing their patients with the correct medication in the right dose. Needless to say, when a pharmacist fails to fulfill that duty, a patient can be exposed to serious risks. In many cases, the symptoms of a pharmacy error are immediately evident; however, that it is not always the case. In some situations, it may take days, months, or even years to discover the extent of the harm caused by an error.

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Medication errors are estimated to affect over 7 million people per year. While many of these errors do not result in patient hospitalization or even patient injury, the fact is that medication errors are a very real threat and patients should double-check all prescriptions for errors before taking any medication. If you have questions about possible errors with your medication, contact a Maryland pharmacy error attorney.

Most medication errors are the result of a pharmacist – either in a retail seating or in a hospital – improperly filling a patient’s prescription. However, there are other less common types of errors that patients should be aware of. For example, each year many mistakes are the result of a pharmacist’s incorrect advice.

Pharmacists’ primary role is to safely fill all prescriptions and counsel patients on their medications. However, pharmacists are also there to answer a patient’s questions regarding over-the-counter medications. Such questions are commonly based on an over-the-counter medication’s potential interactions with prescribed medication that may not have been filled at the pharmacy. Other errors involve incorrect advice regarding medication that is available in varying strengths, some of which may be available over-the-counter.

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Medical errors rate among the top causes of death in the United States each year. Among the main contributors to this category are prescription errors and other medication errors. While the exact number of pharmacy errors is not known due to lax reporting requirements, it is estimated that there are approximately 7 million errors per year. Of course, not all of these errors will result in harm to a patient, but the error-rate still presents major concerns. If you are concerned that a medication error may have caused your injury, reach out to a Maryland pharmacy error attorney.

For years, researchers have been looking at how the increasing number of pharmacy errors can be reduced. Many studies consider the increased use of technology a step in the right direction, due to the fact that humans are error-prone. According to a recent study, older people – especially those in hospitals – are the most likely to be the victim of a pharmacy error.

According to the report detailing the results of the study, the study looked at medication errors occurring between 2007 and 2016. The researchers reported over 517,000 errors in the two areas they studied, with almost 230 of these errors resulting in a patient’s death. Approximately half of the victims of pharmacy errors were over the age of 75. In addition, about 66% of the errors occurred in the hospital setting. This may be attributed to the fact that there is often a sense of urgency in hospitals that is not present in retail pharmacies.

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After any Maryland pharmacy error, one of the first things to consider is when a claim must be filed. A plaintiff’s failure to file a lawsuit within the allowable time will likely result in the dismissal of the claim. In a recent decision in a pharmacy error case, the judge considered whether the plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed on time.

The Facts

According to a local news report discussing the recent decision, the 90-year-old patient had a prescription filled at a pharmacy and suffered an overdose. The woman’s son alleged that she was given an excessive amount of her prescription. A pharmacy assistant allegedly prepared the medicine to be taken once a day instead of once a week as prescribed.

Evidently, the pharmacist noticed the error before the prescription was dispensed and told the assistant to remove the extra tablets. However, the assistant left excessive tablets in the blister packages, and the pharmacist did not check the packages. The patient was admitted to the hospital a few weeks later, and subsequently died from an “acute overdose of medication,” according to the medical examiner’s report.

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Over the past decade, many pharmacies began to offer free shipping to encourage patients to order their prescriptions online, over the phone, or through the mail. It seems pharmacies hoped that by decreasing foot traffic in their brick-and-mortar locations, they would be able to reduce their labor costs and run more efficiently. After offering free shipping for several years and developing a consistent number of online orders, pharmacies are now doing away with free shipping.

Some experts point out that as pharmacies begin to charge for shipping again, patients will no longer order their prescriptions online and will head into the pharmacy to obtain their medication. According to a recent industry news report, experts noticed an increase in the rate of pharmacy errors over the past few months, which correlates with the abolition of free shipping. If you believe a pharmacist has erred in your prescription, reach out to a Maryland pharmacy error attorney.

Experts argue that the sudden and perhaps unexpected increase in foot traffic in retail pharmacy locations is creating a busy workplace for pharmacists, who feel increased time pressure to fill patients’ prescriptions promptly. The experts point out that roughly half of all prescription errors occur in the retail pharmacy setting, and one of the primary reasons for this is because pharmacists are overworked. Indeed, most of the causes of a prescription error can be traced back to a lack of diligence or attention, which is often due to the heavy burden placed on individual pharmacists.

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This blog has covered a number of the common causes of Maryland pharmacy errors in hopes of increasing patient awareness. One common cause of pharmacy errors that has not recently been discussed is when a patient’s prescription is filled multiple times.

Most often, these errors are the results of two different pharmacies each filling a prescription and providing it to the patient. These errors are more common in mail-order pharmacies than in retail pharmacies. More often than not, these errors involve elderly patients that are prescribed multiple medications and may have a difficult time reading or understanding the numerous directions they should follow.

Patient Dies after Taking Twice the Number of Pills That Were Prescribed by His Physician

Back in 2016, an older man died from what appeared to be a medication overdose. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the man was prescribed medication to control his heart, liver, and anxiety-related conditions. The medications were provided to the patient in blister packs containing 108 pills each. The patient’s prescription was supposed to include a total of four blister packs.

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Some pharmacy errors can be difficult to prove because patients are often already sick and suffering before the error. In any Maryland medical negligence claim, a plaintiff must establish the following elements: 1.) a healthcare professional owed the plaintiff a duty of care; 2.) the healthcare professional failed to meet the relevant standard of care; 3.) the plaintiff was injured as a result of that failure; and 4.) the professional’s lack of care caused the plaintiff injuries.

Proving causation means showing that the plaintiff was injured as a result of the professional’s breach of the standard of care. Simply showing that a healthcare professional did something wrong is not enough—a plaintiff must also show that the act caused the plaintiff’s injury.

The plaintiff has to prove causation by showing that it is “more probable than not” that the professional’s negligent act caused the plaintiff’s injury. This can be tricky if the patient was already suffering from health issues, or if there may have been more than one cause of the injury, for example. In a medical error case, there is almost always an underlying issue that caused the patient to receive medication, and patients often have multiple issues and several care providers. A recent study discussed some common medication safety risks in health care.

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