Articles Posted in Errors in local pharmacies

Pharmacists, like doctors and nurses, are medical professionals and are accordingly held to a high standard. This standard requires that pharmacists perform the duties of their job diligently, ensuring that patients are provided with accurate prescriptions and instructions on how to take their medication. When pharmacists make mistakes, anyone injured as a result of the mistake may be entitled to compensation through a Maryland pharmacy error lawsuit.

Random PillsPharmacy errors are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths across the United States each year, making it an important topic among researchers. The underlying causes of pharmacy errors vary, but according to a recent news article, workplace pressures are a major cause of pharmacy errors.

Historically, getting to the bottom of why pharmacy errors occur has been a difficult process, due to the lax reporting requirements. Indeed, the article explains that the number of pharmacy errors has remained constant over the past several years, but, due to changes in reporting requirements, the number of reported incidents has gone up. The researchers discovered that roughly 25% of all errors are caused by pharmacists providing the wrong medication to the patient, and another 25% of all errors are being caused by the pharmacist providing incorrect or unclear instructions on how to take the medication.

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When researchers look into the causes of medication errors, errors are broken down into several categories. Two of the main types of Maryland medication errors are errors that occur in a hospital setting and those that occur in a patient’s own home.

pillsWhen researchers refer to at-home medication errors, they are referring to prescriptions that are picked up at retailer hospital pharmacies and brought home, where the patient takes the medication without supervision. Hospital medication errors, on the other hand, are usually administered by a nurse or another medical professional while a patient is in in-patient care.

According to a recent study, the rate of at-home medication errors has been going up in the past few years. Researchers note that back in 2000, the medication error rate was 1.09 in every 100,000 patients. However, in 2012, that figure rose to 2.28 patients across all patient demographics except young children under the age of six. Researchers note that the errors most commonly involve cardiovascular drugs, analgesics, and hormone therapy medication.

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Earlier last month, a news article discussed a recently filed case brought by a woman who was provided the wrong medication by a national pharmacy chain. According to the news report, the woman suffered from restless leg syndrome and was provided a prescription for Ropinirole by her physician. She called in the prescription to a nearby pharmacy, picked up her pills, and took them home. She took the first dose later that night.

PillsAfter taking the first dose of the medication she was provided by the pharmacist, the woman started feeling odd and suffering from serious nightmares. She explained that she was hallucinating and didn’t know what was going on, and it felt as though her limbs were detaching from her body. Her husband told reporters that his wife awoke in the middle of the night, telling him strange stories that did not make any sense.

On the next day, the woman’s daughter noticed that her mother was not acting normally and checked the pill bottle. Her mother’s name was on the outside of the bottle, and the correct medication name and dosage was on the front of the bottle; however, when she opened the bottle, the pills did not match the label. The bottle contained Risperdone, a powerful anti-psychotic used to treat schizophrenia. After the woman discovered the error, she was taken to the hospital and connected to an IV to flush her system.

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In day-to-day life, when someone admits to doing something wrong, they normally acknowledge that they are responsible for the consequences. However, in pharmacy error cases, that is not always the case. In fact, it is not uncommon for a pharmacist to acknowledge that a prescription mistake was made and then deny all legal liability. Pharmacists are able to do this due to a legal requirement inherent in pharmacy error cases called causation. Causation requires that the injured party prove their injuries were caused by the pharmacist’s mistake.

White PillsIn a recent case filed by an Ohio man, the pharmacy allegedly responsible for an error that left the man with chronic kidney failure seems to be denying that they are legally responsible for his injuries, despite acknowledging a mistake was made.

According to a recent news article detailing the man’s plight, he went into the defendant pharmacy to fill a three-month supply of blood-pressure medication called Labetalol. However, the pharmacy tech provided the man with a prescription for the anti-psychotic Lamotrigine instead. After taking 14 pills of the unprescribed medication, the man started to suffer the signs of kidney failure. He was eventually hospitalized and now requires daily dialysis.

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Prescriptions errors can occur in a number of ways. Perhaps the most commonly seen prescription error, however, is when a pharmacist provides one patient’s properly filled prescription to another patient. The patient who receives the incorrect medication risks having an adverse reaction to the unprescribed pills and also risks an exacerbation of their current condition, due to not receiving their prescribed medication.

Blister PackPrescription errors can often be prevented by a patient’s vigilance. However, the burden of ensuring the safe dispensing of medication should not lie with the patient. Indeed, the law allows for patients who have been injured as a result of a pharmacist’s mistake to seek compensation for their injuries through a personal injury lawsuit.

Many lawsuits brought against allegedly negligent pharmacists are defended in a similar manner. Specifically, the pharmacist will argue that the patient’s injuries were not caused by the pharmacist’s mistake. Since the burden rests with the patient to prove their case, this tactic can work for many pharmacists. However, an experienced personal injury attorney can assist pharmacy error victims by seeking out reliable and credible medical experts to explain to the judge or jury whether the ingestion of a foreign medication may have caused a new illness or disease or exacerbated an existing one.

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In October of last year, the parents of a young boy who suffers from a serious kidney condition discovered that the medication they had been giving their son on a daily basis was not the correct medication that had been prescribed by the boy’s doctor. According to a recent article discussing the family’s fight for justice, the pharmacy where the alleged error occurred is denying liability for the mistake, claiming that the prescription was properly filled.

White PillsAccording the article, the seven-month old boy was diagnosed with a serious kidney disorder at birth. Since then, he has had to undergo two surgeries and is required to take daily medication. After his second surgery, his mother filled her son’s prescription at a local pharmacy and gave her son the medication as directed.

When the mother went to the same pharmacy to refill the prescription, she noticed that the medication she was provided looked different from what she had been giving her son for the past month. Thinking that the pharmacist made an error in filling the refill, the mother brought the pills back to the pharmacy. However, the pharmacist told her that the refill was filled correctly, meaning that the initial prescription may not have been correct.

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Technological advances in medicine over the past 50 years have greatly benefited patients through the use of emerging treatments and technology-assisted procedures that allow doctors and other medical providers to provide better care to their patients faster and at a lower cost. As many parts of the medical field have rapidly progressed through the information age, certain areas of the profession continue to lag behind other industries, and this arguably prevents doctors and other medical professionals from giving their patients the best treatment possible. Medical record-keeping practices serve as an example of how the profession has not quite caught up with the rest of society, and patients can be harmed as a result.

KeyboardMany Doctors Still Use the Color-Coded Charts for Patients’ Medical History

A patient’s medical history contains some of the most important information that doctors need to know before diagnosing and treating a condition or prescribing medication. The patient’s “chart” provides a place for this important information to be recorded, and it has often consisted of an actual paper chart that is physically stored for each patient at a doctor’s office (often in some sort of color-coded folder that is stored behind the receptionist). Although this system has generally worked for the last 100 years that it has been in use, it is an obsolete relic of an older time that is due for replacement.

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Earlier this month, a court in Nevada heard a case involving an interesting legal issue that has recently come up in courts across the nation. In the case, Burton v. Walgreen, the issue was whether a pharmacy had a duty to preserve evidence of an error made by one of the pharmacists. The court determined that whenever a patient returns medication to a pharmacy that was given to him in error, the pharmacy does have a duty to preserve it.

White PillsThe Facts of the Case

According to a summary of the case, the patient was prescribed Valsartan, which is a blood pressure medication. He filled the prescription at a local Walgreen’s pharmacy, and when he got home, he began taking the medication as instructed. After taking about five doses, the patient’s wife noticed that there were two different kinds of pills in the vial that her husband was provided. The patient’s wife then took the medication back to the pharmacy, where the pharmacist confirmed that the patient had been given unprescribed lithium pills in addition to his Valsartan.

After documenting the error, the pharmacist quarantined and destroyed the medication, pursuant to the company’s written policy. In a lawsuit later filed against the pharmacy, the patient claimed that the pharmacy had engaged in spoliation of evidence. Spoliation of evidence is the destruction or significant alteration of evidence by someone who knows or should know that the evidence will be used as evidence in an upcoming court case. A court can impose sanctions against a party for spoliation of evidence.

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A pharmacy’s duty to the patient generally involves ensuring that the provided medication is in accordance with what the patient’s doctor intended the patient to receive. This means taking care to be sure that the proper medication is provided to the patient in the correct dose, with the appropriate instructions. An error in any one of these areas can result in serious or fatal repercussions to the pharmacy customer.

White PillsHowever, a pharmacy also has a duty to the general public to obey the laws and regulations of the pharmacy industry. This includes filling only legitimate prescriptions filled out by bona fide physicians. This is especially essential in instances regarding highly sought after narcotic pain medication that is unfortunately abused by much of the population. When a pharmacy fails to live up to the expectations placed upon it by the legal system or by society in general, there are often hefty financial consequences. That is exactly what happened when CVS Pharmacy was discovered to have filled dozens of fraudulent prescriptions across several stores in the Boston area.

CVS Fills Fake Prescriptions for Painkillers

Prescription painkillers are some of the most abused prescription drugs on the market. Indeed, some hard-core drug users prefer prescription painkillers to street drugs because of the “clean” high that they provide. And, unfortunately, some people will go to incredible lengths to feed their addiction, including creating fake prescriptions.

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Whenever a patient is given the wrong prescription, or even the incorrect dose of a prescribed medication, the results can be devastating, depending on the medication provided as well as the individual patient. Children and the elderly are at a heightened risk for developing serious or fatal symptoms after a pharmacy error, so it is especially important that these individuals are hyper-vigilant when it comes to double-checking their pharmacist’s work.

medications-342456_960_720Anyone who has been to a pharmacy recently likely agrees that pharmacists are busy people. They are often responsible for hundreds – if not thousands – of prescriptions each day, often involving similarly named medications prescribed for drastically different ailments. It is only natural that every now and again a pharmacist will mix up two patients’ medications, or inadvertently grab the wrong medication and provide it to the patient.

When these mistakes happen, most of the time they are caught before a serious injury results. However, elderly patients with many prescriptions may forget to double-check the medication prior to taking it. If a serious injury occurs as a result, the pharmacy where the prescription was filled may be held liable in a Maryland pharmacy error lawsuit. Of course, pharmacists don’t make these mistakes on purpose, but when an oversight is made, it is the patient who pays the price.

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