Articles Posted in Fatal Pharmacy Errors

Last month, a jury in Massachusetts rendered a guilty verdict in a case brought against a pharmacist who had run a pharmacy that was tied to hundreds of cases of meningitis in 20 states. According to a national news source covering the case, the pharmacist was acquitted of murder charges but was convicted on several counts of “racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead.”

Mortar and PestleEvidently, the pharmacist ran a compounding pharmacy that would create custom-made medications. However, inspections conducted during the investigation revealed that the equipment used to create the medication was not sterilized, and ingredients used in the process had expired. In addition, prosecutors alleged that the pharmacist, as well as several of his employees, actively lied about the condition of the lab.

The medication created in the lab was shipped to 20 states and was tied to 700 cases of meningitis. It is believed that 64 people died due to the unsafe medication that was created in the lab, which was the deadliest meningitis outbreak in U.S. history.

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Earlier this month, a British news source published an article discussing the 2016 death of a man who was provided the incorrect prescription just days before he died. According to the report, the man had been receiving medication for type II diabetes, heart problems, and glaucoma. He had filled the prescriptions in the past with no problem, but in May of last year he was provided another patient’s prescription. Apparently, the packet containing the pills contained another customer’s prescription with his name on seven different labels; however, the victim’s name was printed on the outermost packaging.

Silver PillsAn investigation was conducted into the fatal pharmacy error, and it was discovered that the filling technician had opened the interior packet of pills, added additional requested pills, and then sealed the package back up. Apparently, the technician did not notice that the name on the seven labels inside the packaging and the name on the outside packaging did not match. And neither did her supervisor.

After the error occurred, but before it was discovered, the man began complaining of chest pain and having a difficult time breathing. Two days after the error, he passed away. The coroner’s report indicated that the prescription error at least “hastened” the man’s death. However, the prosecuting authority determined that there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges. Since the accident, the branch where the error occurred has stopped assembling medication packets on location.

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Prescription medications are often dangerous drugs that are subject to government regulation, due to the potential harm they can cause when taken in a manner inconsistent with their therapeutic use. While the majority of pharmacy errors do not result in serious patient injuries, the reality is that there are a significant number of errors each year that do result in serious injuries or death. Often, the pharmacists responsible for these errors are subject to professional sanctions as a result of the error. However, these sanctions often seem insignificant compared to the injury or loss suffered by the victims of pharmacists’ mistakes.

Assorted PillsLast year, an elderly woman died as a result of taking five times the prescribed dose of an immuno-suppressant medication. According to a local news report covering the tragic death, the woman was provided the medication by a local pharmacy. Evidently, the prescription was initially incorrectly filled by a new technician. The supervising pharmacist caught the error and directed the technician to fix it. However, the technician failed to correct the mistake, and the pharmacist never double-checked the technician’s work.

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Most deadly pharmacy errors can be traced to a mistake that may not be justifiable or excusable but is at least understandable. Errors such as dosage mistakes that result from a misplaced or removed decimal point, problems in which a patient receives the wrong medication because of a similarly named medication, or patients get mixed up by a pharmacy employee can usually be explained. Because of the serious, sometimes deadly consequences of prescription and pharmacy errors, the victims of these mistakes should be entitled to compensation if they or their loved one is injured, disabled, impaired, or killed as a result of a medical professional’s mistake.

IV Medication65-Year-Old Woman Receives Paralytic Agent Instead of Anti-Seizure Medication

The unfortunate case of an Oregon woman who died after receiving an intravenous dose of a dangerous medication from an inpatient hospital in 2014 demonstrates that some pharmacy errors and prescription mistakes defy all logical explanation and simply cannot be reasonably explained. In this tragic instance, a woman who was physically healthy when she checked herself into a hospital for symptoms of anxiety was dead two days later after receiving a medication that she had not been prescribed and that should not have been administered to any patient in the dose that she received.

According to a local news report, law enforcement authorities have recently announced that they will not pursue criminal charges against the medical professional who prepared the IV containing the paralytic agent rocuronium instead of the anti-seizure medication, fosphenytoin, that the woman’s physician had ordered. Authorities announced that it would not be in the interest of justice to prosecute the wrongdoer, while implying that they did have sufficient evidence for a conviction in the tragic death.

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Earlier this month, a local Canadian news source published an article about a hospital that admittedly provided substandard medical care to a patient but has since made serious efforts to provide better care. According to the report, the efforts were in response to the death of an 85-year-old patient who was being treated for a bowel obstruction.

injection-needle-macro-2-1285558-mEvidently, the attending nurse administered a prescribed narcotic intravenously rather than subcutaneously, as the physician had recommended. This resulted in the man contracting a case of pneumonia and passing away the following day. Initially, the medical examiner listed the man’s cause of death as “natural,” but as the examiner reviewed additional hospital documents the cause was changed to “accident.”

The man’s family was upset with the level of communication and respect they received after their loved one’s passing. Initially, family members felt as though the administration was “obstructing every attempt” to get information about their loved one. In fact, a professional investigation into the hospital’s chief of staff concluded that he was “evasive and vague” when it came to the incident.

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Earlier this year in Lincoln County, Kentucky, a father filed a wrongful death suit against a local CVS pharmacy for their alleged involvement in his son’s death. According to one local news source, the lawsuit filed by the man names the CVS in Danville, Kentucky as well as several employees in the store.

pills-vitamins-534531-mEvidently, the man’s son was admitted to the hospital for a pulmonary embolism and upon his discharge was prescribed several medications by his physician. After his discharge, he went to his local CVS pharmacy and filled the prescriptions. The pharmacy gave him the wrong medication. However, since these were not prescriptions that he normally takes, it wasn’t until two days later that he noticed the medications provided by the pharmacy were not the ones prescribed by his doctor.

He was taken to the hospital by a friend of the family and entered into a fatal cardiac arrest 10 days later. The boy’s father is seeking damages for his son’s pain and suffering, death, loss of earning capacity, and medical and funeral expenses. CVS has not yet responded to or made any public comment on the lawsuit.

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wooden-mortar-with-pestle-1405696-mEarlier this month in Boston, the Associated Press reported on a story of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy that was under criminal investigation for over 25 deaths caused by medication that the pharmacy created. According to the report, the case is the largest in U.S. history to be brought against a pharmacy and alleges that the owner of the pharmacy and 14 former employees were engaged in criminal conduct in the creation of medication using expired ingredients.

Evidently, the New England Compounding Center employees are charged with knowingly using expired ingredients as well as failing to follow cleanliness standards that ultimately resulted in over 750 cases of illness and 64 deaths nationwide.

According to the article, the federal government recently seized over $18 million in funds that were being transferred into and out of accounts with various owners’ names on them. The seizures spanned 13 financial institutions and dozens of transfers.

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Earlier this month in the United Kingdom, an 85-year-old woman died when she took medication that was given to her by her pharmacist that was three times her normal dose. According to a report by one local news source, the woman was prescribed a 25 mg dose of a common anti-depressant medication. However, her local pharmacist admitted to giving her a box of 75 mg pills with a label on the package indicating it contained 25 mg pills.

pill-1120380-mEvidently, the elderly woman had been taking the same medication without incident since 1984. However, after taking the increased dose of medication for one month, the woman’s family began to notice that their loved one was confused and forgetful. In fact, one of her family members told reporters that they thought she was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Not long after she began taking the triple dose of medication, the woman suffered a serious fall that caused her to break six ribs, puncture her lung, and caused her internal bleeding. About 10 days after the fall, she died as a result of the injuries she sustained.

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In a frightening case out of British Columbia, a 76-year-old, otherwise healthy woman died when she was prescribed two drugs that were known to have dangerous interactions. According to a report by one local news source, the error slipped past the physician, two pharmacists, and the computer system that tracks drug interactions.

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Evidently, the woman was on maintenance therapy for her colitis with a drug called mercaptopurine, an immunosuppressant. When the woman developed a case of gout, her prescribing doctor sent her to the pharmacy with a prescription for another drug. The two drugs were prescribed by the same doctor.

When she went to the pharmacy to fill her prescription for the new medication, no one at the pharmacy told her that the two drugs could be dangerous if taken together. The woman went home, continued taking her mercaptopurine, and started with the new drug as well.

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Not too long ago, two sons lost their mother during what was supposed to be a routine two-hour surgery to help deliver soothing medication to her aching muscles and bones. According to a report by the Boston Globe, the woman fell last summer and broke several of her vertebrae. Doctors fused several of the bones together to prevent them from moving, but her persistent pain continued.

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Eventually, doctors recommended a routine surgery to put a small pump under her skin to more quickly deliver medication to her spine and the surrounding muscles. As a part of the surgery, the surgeon needed to use a certain type of dye that is to be injected into the spine. However, when he asked the hospital’s pharmacist for the dye, the pharmacist replied that they didn’t carry that dye and provided an alternative.

Not looking at what the dye was, and assuming it was a replacement for the requested dye, the doctor injected the dye into the woman’s spine. After the surgery, the doctor told the woman’s sons that the surgery didn’t go as well as expected, but that the pump should still work.

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