Articles Posted in Pharmacy Errors and Children

People who regularly take prescription medicine or have received prescription medication in a hospital or clinic setting can appreciate the vital importance of best practices when it comes to receiving the medicine. Whether it is at the pharmacy or in the hospital, it is essential to be aware of safety measures that could make a major difference in the care you receive. Every patient deserves peace of mind when it comes to their medications, and to live free of the consequences of medical and pharmaceutical malpractice.

Incorrect or erroneous distribution or application of medications is surprisingly frequent in the United States. In fact, some sources cite a rate of one in five Americans experiencing a medical error while receiving health treatment. Unfortunately, Maryland is no exception to this trend, and Maryland residents should be aware of this issue throughout the state and the country. A recent news article discussed a medication error where a young child was given the wrong dosage by a pharmacy.

The article discusses a woman who says that a pharmacy error sickened her daughter when the girl received the wrong dosage of a liquid medication used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD. The mother has since filed a complaint with the Board of Pharmacy after her daughter received a 5 daily milliliter dose of Quillivant XR instead of the prescribed 1 daily milliliter, stating that her daughter was admitted to the emergency room because of side effects from the higher dosage of medication. The state agency confirmed that a complaint had been filed. When she confronted Walgreens about the error, a pharmacist told the mother that the staff was rushed due to limited staffing levels and the order was misread. Walgreens issued a statement saying they do not discuss individual cases to protect patient confidentiality.

According to recent reporting, millions of medication errors occur each year, often at chain pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens, where a pharmacist may fill hundreds of prescriptions during a shift while juggling other tasks such as giving vaccinations, calling doctors’ offices to confirm prescriptions and working the drive-through. In a recent survey of California licensed pharmacists in 2021, 91% of pharmacists working at chain pharmacies stated that staffing was insufficient to provide adequate care to patients. The state’s Board of Pharmacy, a regulatory board, requires pharmacies to document and track errors internally and inform patients about mistakes under some circumstances, only 62% of pharmacists working in chains stated that stores were following those rules according to the 2021 survey.

One documented error resulted in the improper dose of a hormonal treatment for breast cancer being delivered. Another case resulted in a pregnant patient suffering a fall after she was given two drugs prescribed to another customer. One patient took prednisone, a powerful steroid, for 89 days after a Walgreens pharmacist confused the drug with Prilosec, the heartburn drug that had actually been prescribed. A pharmacist at CVS gave a patient another customer’s prescription for 50-milligram tablets of Zoloft, the antidepressant, according to a February citation. The person took the wrong drug for at least seven months, refilling the prescription three times.

How Common Are Medication Errors?

According to reports, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives approximately 100,000 medication error reports annually. In 2010, the FDA received only 16,689, but by 2018, the agency was receiving more than 100,000 reports per year. Experts point out that medication error reports are submitted on a voluntary basis, meaning that true medication errors are likely even higher.

People that regularly take prescription medicine or have received prescription medication in a hospital or clinic setting can appreciate the vital importance of best practices when it comes to receiving the medicine. Whether it is at the pharmacy or in the hospital, it is essential to be aware of safety measures that could make a major difference in the care you receive. Every patient deserves peace of mind when it comes to their medications, and to live free of the consequences of medical and pharmaceutical malpractice.

Incorrect or erroneous distribution or application of medications is surprisingly present in the United States. In fact, some sources cite a rate of one in five Americans experiencing a medical error while receiving health treatment. Unfortunately, Maryland is no exception to this trend, and Maryland residents should be aware of emerging best practices in the face of the increased computerization of pharmacies and hospital medication cabinets.

Illnesses Stemming From Medication Errors

Pharmacy errors are a serious cause for concern nationwide, with thousands of Americans suffering injury, illness, or death each year because of a negligently prescribed, prepared, or filled medications. Both state and federal regulators attempt to ensure compliance with pharmacy safety standards, however the regulators often fail to hold negligent doctors, pharmacies, and employees accountable in the event of an error. This point is demonstrated in a recently published story of a boy who suffered serious complications after consuming prescribed medication that was 14x stronger than intended or labeled.

According to the recently published report, the parents of a five-year-old autistic boy were alarmed when their child started reacting poorly to a medication that had been prepared by their pharmacy. The medication in question was a compounded mixture of several medications to assist the boy with sleeping. When the parents noticed the boy going into an unconscious sleep while standing shortly after consuming the medication, the boy was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for an overdose of a medication generally prescribed for high blood pressure. The boy ultimately recovered from the overdose, but the parents suspected that an error had occurred in the preparation of the medication.

The child’s parents reported the issue to the regulatory board in charge of medication error. The couple also performed some investigation of their own, paying out-of-pocket to have the formula tested in a laboratory, which revealed the error once and for all. Armed with the information, the parents sought accountability through the regulatory body, and were disappointed when neither the pharmacy nor any of their employees were disciplined for the dangerous mistake. Unfortunately, the regulatory agencies tasked with ensuring the safety of patients throughout the country are often staffed by supporters of the medical industry, who may have been lobbied by advocates for reduced accountability for medical and pharmacy malpractice.

Medication errors are an unfortunate yet common occurrence throughout the United States. While these errors can have deadly consequences, they are most dangerous to vulnerable populations such as older adults, pregnant women, and children. In Maryland, those who suffer a medication error may hold the responsible party liable for their losses. Children are a unique population in that they have little to no control over the medication they consume yet can face the most consequences after a medication error. Statistics indicate that over 50% of American children consume one medication or more every week, and one study revealed that almost half of caregivers gave an incorrect dose.

While a single dosing error of a common medication may not result in a significant injury, persistent errors can raise the likelihood of serious harm. In light of the growing concern surrounding pediatric medication errors, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a piece on preventing home medication errors. The authors acknowledged that home medication errors commonly occur with liquid medications requiring preparations. Caregivers with reduced health literacy or limited English proficiency are at an increased risk for making an administration error.

In addition to home caregivers, health care providers may also be responsible for pediatric medication errors. Many health care provider practices enhance the occurrence of errors. Providers who do not include complete information related to indication, frequency, or duration, can affect how the caregiver administers the medication. Further, providers who fail to include a consistent dosage or conduct a thorough medication review may inappropriately prescribe medication.

Medication errors can occur at many different steps in the process of prescribing and dispensing medication. One point at which an error can occur is in providing the correct dosage according to the prescription. A dosage that is too strong or too weak can have serious and lasting effects on a patient. In the event of an incorrect, a patient can file a Maryland pharmacy injury claim against those responsible for the error. In a negligence suit, the patient would have to prove that the defendant in the lawsuit owed the plaintiff a duty of care, the defendant failed to meet that duty by wrongfully acting or failing to act, the plaintiff was injured as a result, and the defendant’s wrongful acts caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In a civil claim, the plaintiff must prove each of the elements by a preponderance of the evidence standard.

Providers and insurers may argue that a patient has not shown that the injuries were caused by the medication error rather than some other condition. This is why experts are often needed in such cases and a lot of investigation is required for these claims. In a successful pharmacy error claim, a victim may be able to recover financial compensation for the damages the plaintiff suffered. These damages may include medical expenses (past and future), physical therapy, transportation costs, lost wages, and physical and emotional suffering.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Maryland Negligence Cases?

All claims are subject to a statute of limitations, meaning a time limit for filing a claim. Generally, a negligence claim in Maryland is subject to a three-year statute of limitations. In any case, consulting with an experienced Maryland injury attorney about a potential case as soon as possible is advisable.

The recent rollout of the most popular Covid-19 vaccines for use in 5 to 11-year-old children may present a unique opportunity for Americans to successfully battle the Covid-19 pandemic. Allowing children to be vaccinated will most likely reduce the community spread of the virus and allow Americans to return to their lifestyles from before the pandemic. Although the vaccine contents are the same for adults and children, the dosage approved for children aged 5 to 11 years is smaller than the approved dosage for adults. A recently published local news report discusses how one Virginia pharmacy mistakenly gave children vaccine shots that were dosed for adults.

According to the news report, the pharmacy, located in Loudoun County, VA gave over 100 children doses of the vaccine that were meant for people 12 years of age and older. Although the pharmacy has admitted their mistake publicly, the news report mentions that some families whose kids received the improper dose of the vaccine were not notified of the mix-up. The report does not note any unexpected side effects or other injury to the children who received the wrong dose of the vaccine, however, the mistake happened only recently and the long-term effects are not yet known.

Consumers are expected to put their faith in licensed pharmacists to dispense medications as prescribed by a doctor. This extends to vaccinations and other duties besides simply filling prescriptions. Although pharmacists and other pharmacy employees are trusted to do their jobs correctly, mistakes such as the recent Covid-19 vaccine mix-up are quite common. Pharmacies that dispense the wrong medication or the wrong dose of medication could cause their patients serious harm or even death by their mistake. Pharmacies and their employees may be understaffed and overworked as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, but this should not excuse negligence on the job.

A 4-year-old was recently accidentally administered a COVID-19 vaccine when she was brought in to get a flu shot. According to one news article, the Maryland pharmacy error occurred when the 4-year-old girl went with her parents to a Walgreens pharmacy in Baltimore, Maryland. She was supposed to receive a flu shot but the pharmacist accidentally injected her with a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is not currently authorized for children younger than 12 years old and the vaccine for 5 to 11 year-olds, which is not yet authorized, only has about a third of the dosage given to the 4-year-old.

The girl’s parents did not know what to do and a nurse’s hotline and Poison Control “yielded few answers.” Researchers are still looking into the effects of COVID-19 vaccines on young children and toddlers, including at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. A representative from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated that vaccination providers are supposed to report vaccine administration errors to The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, managed by the federal government.

Although no adverse effects were reported in this case, the case illustrates that other, possibly more serious, errors can occur. Medical errors and vaccine errors occur all too frequently. In the event of a Maryland pharmacy error, victims may be able to recover financial compensation for their injuries, which may include medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses, as well as emotional suffering. In a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the error, a victim would have to show that the defendant(s) owed a duty of care to the victim, the defendant(s) failed to meet the standard of care required in that situation by acting or failing to act in some way, the defendant(s)’s wrongful act caused the victim’s injury, and the victim suffered damages as a result.

Medication errors occur every day and in most recent years, they have received significant attention from the media and have been the subject of many studies. But such studies often focus on adult errors rather than pediatric errors. Children may be at greater risk because of the additional calculations and variations in medication for children. A recent study with implications for Maryland medication error victims looked at the occurrence of ten-fold medication errors in children.

According to the article, results from the study were recently released after the two-year study was conducted on pediatric ten-fold medication errors. In one case, a professional administered an unintentional ten-fold overdose to a four-year-old child. The investigation looked at medication errors not just in prescribing, but also in dispensing and administering doses. A consultant explained that there are more steps involved to calculate a children’s prescription than an adult prescription. The dosing for children is often based on weight. Sometimes another calculation needs to be to convert medicine to a liquid formula and sometimes another calculation to adjust the concentration based on the specific product that is available.

The study showed that of the ten-fold medication errors that occurred during the study, the vast majority—76 percent—occurred during the prescription phase. Another 20 percent occurred while administering the medication and 4 percent while dispensing it. The study offered solutions to decrease pediatric medication errors, such as shifting medications from liquid form to tablet form but noted that not enough is known about such errors to give a clear solution.

The Pharmacy Times recently reported an issue that many parents are facing when administering ibuprofen oral medication to their children. Maryland medication errors can result in serious adverse side effects to infants and children taking cold and flu medication or pain relievers. In some cases, these errors result from a caretaker’s failure to read the packaging instructions. However, marketing errors increase the likelihood of a dosing error.

The report focuses on the two different concentrations of children’s and infant’s ibuprofen. The infant’s formulation is intended for babies aged 6-23 months, weighing between 12-23 pounds. The infant’s formation is 40 mg/mL, whereas the children’s formulation contains 20 mg/mL. The childrens’ formulation is intended for children aged 2-11 years or weighing 24-95 pounds. While companies rely on the consumer carefully reading the dosing and administration instructions, confusion often arises because of the similarities in packaging and labeling.

Pediatric hospitals and medical providers are becoming more aware of the confusion, and as such, parents are receiving education regarding dosage upon discharge. However, the Institute for Safe Medication (ISM) reported that medical providers had received several reports about medication mix-ups occurring after a child was discharged.

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