During the COVID-19 pandemic, Maryland residents may have found themselves relying more and more on pharmacists and local pharmacies, particularly as social distancing measures have limited the opportunities to speak with pharmacy staff and ask questions about prescriptions. Although many Maryland patients have been able to get the medication they need from pharmacies, it is important to remember that Maryland pharmacy errors are still happening. Pharmacy errors—which are not unique to Maryland but happen all across the country—can have significant negative consequences, especially during the current public health crisis.
Recently, a pharmacy error made headlines when a pharmacist’s methadone dosage error landed his client in the emergency room. According to a news article covering the incident, the client, a man in his 60s, was at the pharmacy waiting in line to receive his dosage of methadone under an Opioid Substitution Treatment program. The pharmacist identified the client he thought would be the next to receive a dose and turned away to measure the correct dose for that client. But that initial client left the room and the other client stepped forward and was waiting when the pharmacist returned to the counter with the measured dose.
The pharmacist did not follow protocol and say the client’s name when handing them the dose, and instead handed the incorrect dose to the client, who took it. The dosage the client took was 75mg, almost seven times higher than his usual dose of 11 mg. Afterward, before the client left, the pharmacist realized his mistake, but still allowed the client to drive himself home. Later on, the client received a call from a nurse, who had been informed of the error, telling him he needed to seek emergency medical attention immediately due to the risks posed by the increased dose. He was kept at the hospital for a bit but fortunately suffered no long-term complications.