Articles Posted in Common Errors

Medical mistakes, including pharmacy errors, are among the leading causes of death in the state. Notwithstanding the data showing that preventable medication errors affect nearly 7 million patients per year, most people maintain an “it could never happen to me” approach when thinking about these potentially dangerous errors. However, the reality is that anyone can fall victim to a Maryland pharmacy error.

Not all pharmacy errors are harmful, and fewer yet are fatal. In fact, most pharmacy errors are caught by another pharmacist or the patient. Of the patients who end up bringing the incorrect prescription home and taking it, few will experience immediate side effects. That, however, does not mean that the un-prescribed medication will not cause the patient harm; only that there are no immediate effects.

The best way to avoid suffering the ill effects of a Maryland pharmacy error is to prevent the mistake from happening in the first place. Of course, the duty to prevent a mistake does not ultimately rest with the patient; however, patients should still double-check all prescriptions and seek a consultation with a pharmacist when taking new prescriptions.

Included among the responsibilities of a Maryland pharmacist is the duty to ensure that the medication provided to a patient does not negatively interact with the patient’s other prescriptions. Prescription medications contain powerful drugs and many prescription medications should not be taken with other prescription medication or even over-the-counter medications.

There are several types of drug interactions, including pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic interactions. A pharmacodynamic interaction occurs when two medications that react with the same receptor site are taken at the same time. Pharmacodynamic interactions result in the ingested medications having a greater (synergistic) or decreased (antagonistic) effect, depending on the specific medications involved. Pharmacodynamic interactions can be fatal.

Pharmacokinetic interactions occur when one drug affects the body’s ability to absorb, metabolize, distribute, or eliminate another medication. For example, calcium can bind to some medications, reducing their absorption. Thus, patients are advised not to take the HIV medication Tivicay at the same time as Tums because the calcium in Tums can lower the amount Tivicay that is absorbed into the patient’s system. In this situation, doctors suggest patients take the two medications at staggered times throughout the day.

Medical errors are consistently ranked as one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with some estimating that as many as 440,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors. One of the more common medical mistakes are pharmacy errors that occur in retail and hospital pharmacies. Pharmacy errors can be harmful not only when patients have a negative interaction with the unprescribed drug but also when a patient fails to get the necessary medication.

Pharmacists are highly educated and well-trained medical professionals, like doctors, dentists, or nurses. Because of this, pharmacists have a professional duty to ensure that their patients are provided the correct medication, in the right dose, with the appropriate instructions. When a pharmacist makes an error, and a patient suffers as a result, the patient may be able to pursue a Maryland pharmacy error lawsuit against the negligent pharmacist as well as the pharmacy where the error occurred.

Given the prevalence of pharmacy errors, significant effort has been devoted to understanding the cause of these errors. It has been determined that certain medications are more likely to be involved in a medication error. Typically, these are medications that have similarly spelled or pronounced names as other drugs. Industry professionals call these look-alike sound-alike drugs, or LASA drugs. The most dangerous LASA drugs are those that share their names with drugs that have adverse interactions with other commonly prescribed drugs. A few examples of LASA drugs are:

Over the past few years, local Maryland pharmacies have seen a gradual increase in the number of prescriptions that are filled each year. However, pharmacies have been slow to adjust the number of pharmacists with this increase in demand. As a result, pharmacists are dealing with increased workloads.

For quite some time, experts have agreed that as a pharmacist’s workload increases, the likelihood of an error also increases. Some believe that new technology can help pharmacists more accurately and quickly fill prescriptions. According to a recent industry news report, by using state-of-the-art technology to fill orders, pharmacists can free up nearly 90 minutes per day.

Generally, when appropriate technology is used to fill prescriptions, there seems to be a reduction in the error rate. However, some skeptics point to the learning curve that implementing new technology presents, raising a concern that patient safety may be jeopardized as pharmacists get accustomed to frequent changes in the workplace.

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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