Articles Posted in Pharmacy Errors and Children

For a parent, almost nothing is scarier than having your child be sick and in need of hospitalization. Unfortunately, parents across Maryland face this reality every day, relying on children’s hospitals and wards to protect their infants and children. Hospitals are supposed to keep their patients safe and take care of them to the best of their abilities, but, tragically, sometimes mistakes happen, jeopardizing the health and livelihood of young patients. One common type of mistake is pharmacy errors, when the incorrect medication or dosage is given to one or more patient. These errors are particularly concerning when the patients are infants or children, particularly vulnerable and potentially unable to communicate when something feels wrong.

When pharmacy errors happen, the results can be tragic, potentially leading to severe health concerns or even death. That risk is increased when the mistake is not immediately discovered, but rather continues to happen. For example, a children’s hospital in Cincinnati recently admitted to mistakenly giving several patients a wrongly mixed batch of blood pressure medication. According to a local news report covering the tragic incident, one of the victims affected is an 11-month-old baby, who received 54 doses of the incorrectly mixed drug. Each dose was ten times stronger than required, and although the infant survived, he suffered kidney damage as a result.

The hospital has not released much additional information. At this time, it is unknown how many other patients received the incorrect medication, for how long, or what adverse outcomes occurred. The hospital has also not made clear whether the incorrectly mixed medication was created in its own pharmacy or received from an outside supplier.

One of the best ways to prevent Maryland pharmacy errors is to double-check all medications are accurate before taking them. Of course, children cannot check their own prescriptions, and rely on their parents to do so. However, most parents reasonably assume that the medicine given to them by a pharmacist is correct. A recent news report illustrates that it is not always the case.

According to a report by the New York Times, at least 17 children in Spain suffered a rare disorder called “werewolf syndrome,” also known as hypertrichosis, in which they grow hair all across their body. Evidently, the children were all prescribed medication to treat heartburn. However, the medicine was mislabeled, and the children’s parents were given a drug to treat hair loss. In all, 17 children were affected by the medication mix-up. Medical experts told reporters that the hair should start to fall out within three months of when the children stop taking the medication.

Apparently, several pharmacies were sent minoxidil, the main ingredient in many prescription and over-the-counter hair-growth treatments, instead of omeprazole, which treats acid reflux. The medication originated from India; however, it is unclear where and how the error occurred. Spanish authorities are currently investigating the error, and trying to learn more about how it happened so future mistakes can be prevented.

Although the Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not currently list medical errors as a cause of death, medical errors claim more than 250,000 lives per year. If listed among other causes of death, this figure would be the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. Not surprisingly, Maryland pharmacy errors are among the leading causes of death in the state.

While there are many types of medical errors, one of the more common types is a prescription error, or pharmacy error. A pharmacy error occurs when a patient brings a prescription to a pharmacy to get filled and the pharmacy provides the patient with something other than what they were supposed to receive. Most commonly, prescription errors involve one or more of the following errors:

  • The wrong medication;

The federal government classifies medication as prescription-only for a reason. Often, this is because these drugs can have severe interactions with other medicines or because they carry the risk of severe side effects when not taken under close supervision. Any patient who receives the wrong medication from a pharmacy is at risk of developing a serious illness or condition, but young patients are perhaps most at risk following a Maryland pharmacy error.

Earlier this month, a local news source reported on a pharmacy error involving an eight-year-old girl’s medication. Evidently, the girl suffered from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Hemochromatosis, which caused her to experience severe pain in her joints. The girl’s physician prescribed her a 50 mg dose of Celecoxib, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat acute pain related to arthritis and similar conditions.

The girl took the medication without incident for a few months; however, earlier this year, when her father went to pick up the prescription, he was provided 200 mg pills. Not noticing the error, the girl’s father gave his daughter the medication. Not long after taking the first dose, she told her father that her stomach was hurting. Given the pain his daughter regularly experiences, the girl’s father was surprised to hear the girl complaining of a stomach ache, so he took her to the doctor.

When a pharmacist makes a mistake in the process of filling a patient’s order, there is a high likelihood that the patient will experience adverse effects or symptoms. Occasionally, a Maryland pharmacy error results in permanent injuries or even death. The extent of the damage caused by a pharmacy error depends on several factors, including the type and dose of medication that was given to the patient, as well as the patient’s age and health.

Pharmacy errors involving children and the elderly tend to be the most serious because these populations have fragile immune systems and may not be able to effectively communicate what they are feeling. While the burden to double-check all prescriptions often ends up resting with the adults who supervise young children and the elderly, the actual duty rests with the pharmacist to get it right in the first place.

As medical professionals, pharmacists have a duty to their patients. This duty requires pharmacists to accurately fill prescriptions and offer consultations to patients who seek advice. When a patient is harmed due to a pharmacist’s mistake, that patient is entitled to pursue a claim against the pharmacy, seeking compensation for the injuries caused by the error.

Any time a pharmacist provides a patient with the wrong medication, there is the possibility that there will be serious, potentially life-threatening consequences. However, when the victim of a Maryland pharmacy error is a young child, the risk that the error will result in serious injury or death significantly increases. And while parents should check all labels and all accompanying literature to ensure that an error has not occurred, the duty ultimately rests with the pharmacist to accurately fill a prescription.

In many cases, after a child is given the wrong medication the parent will quickly realize that there has been an error because their child will exhibit symptoms. However, some symptoms may not arise immediately, and may take days, weeks, or even months to arrive. Generally speaking, a Maryland pharmacy error victim has three years to bring a claim under the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations may be tolled from the time of the error to the point where the patient realizes that she suffered injury. Additionally, if the patient is a minor, the statute of limitations is tolled until the day before the minor turns 18 years old. However, just like most things in life, it is not a good idea to wait until the last minute to file a claim.

Newborn Baby Given the Wrong Medication by Local Pharmacy

Earlier this month, a local news article reported on a pharmacy error that allegedly occurred at a CVS pharmacy. Evidently, a mother picked up what she thought was a prescription for her newborn daughter’s acid reflux. The mother gave the medication to her daughter for two weeks before realizing that the drug the pharmacist provided her was actually a steroid. During the period when the newborn was taking the unprescribed steroid, she was vomiting, swollen, not sleeping and cried more often than usual.

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Each year, there are estimated to be approximately 1.5 million pharmacy errors across the United States. Of those, about half are later determined to have been preventable. While these figures may seem shocking, the reality is that the actual number of pharmacy errors may be much higher given lax pharmacy reporting requirements.

In most states, a discretionary reporting system is used. In general, even when mandatory reporting is implemented, a pharmacist is not required to report an error unless it results in patient harm. However, in many cases, a patient will not immediately show symptoms of a medication error. Thus, pharmacy errors that do not result in immediate serious harm or are not delivered to a patient do not need to be reported. If you have questions that relate to potential pharmacy negligence, contact a Maryland medication error attorney.

Mother Pushes for Stricter Reporting Requirements

Back in 2016, a young boy in Canada died in his sleep after his mother was given the wrong medication when she went to refill her son’s prescription. According to a recent news report covering the tragic accident, the boy suffered from parasomnia, which caused the boy to wake up screaming and crying in the middle of the night. The boy’s physician prescribed tryptophan, and the boy had taken the drug for about a year.

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In Maryland personal injury cases, a range of damages may be available, depending on the circumstances of the case. Damages are generally divided into two categories: general damages and special damages. Special damages are awarded for the plaintiff’s economic damages, whereas general damages are awarded for noneconomic damages and other damages. Examples of special damages are medical bills, transportation costs, physical therapy, past, and future wage losses, loss of future earning capacity, diminished earning capacity, and loss of consortium. General damages can include pain and suffering, and other noneconomic damages. All of these damages are compensatory damages, which means that they are intended to compensate the plaintiff for the plaintiff’s injuries. As in any personal injury claim, in a medical error case a plaintiff must prove all of the alleged damages.

In addition to compensatory damages, some plaintiffs may be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, are meant to punish the defendant for the defendant’s conduct and to deter others from bad behavior. In those cases, a plaintiff must show that the defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongful conduct. There are caps on some types of damages in Maryland, so it is essential to consult with an attorney to understand which types and amount of damages are available.

Three-Year-Old Child Overdoses on Morphine After Pharmacy Error

Human error resulted in the recent overdose of a 3-year-old, according to one news article. The article reported that the toddler was prescribed morphine after he had tonsil surgery and had his adenoids removed and tubes put in his ears. The medical staff prescribed the toddler morphine and told the family that it was routine. The toddler’s parents filled the morphine prescription at a pharmacy without any consultation with a pharmacist. Later that day, the parents read the instructions on the medication and gave their child the medicine. According to his mother, the next morning, the toddler’s father picked him up, “and his head flopped right back.” The mother said the child was unresponsive and not breathing properly. The parents rushed the child to the hospital where doctors said that he had overdosed. The hospital staff gave him naloxone to stabilize him, and he eventually recovered.

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When most people hear that a pharmacy error has been made, they picture a busy pharmacist who provided one patient with another’s medication after transposing a few letters in a patient’s last name. And with thousands of medications in the average pharmacy, there certainly are a significant number of Maryland pharmacy errors involving a pharmacist providing a patient with the wrong medication altogether. However, this is only one type of pharmacy error.Many pharmacy errors involve a patient receiving the correct medication, but the wrong dosage. This can either occur when a pharmacist provides the patient with the wrong strength of medication or when the instructions provided to the patient are incorrect. In either event, a patient can suffer serious injuries by taking too much (or too little) of a prescribed medication. Children are especially susceptible to this type of error, since medication tends to affect them more, given their size and weight.

Parents are encouraged to double-check their children’s prescriptions for any errors at the pharmacy. In addition, parents should consult with pharmacy staff, letting them know that the medication is for a child.

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While a Maryland pharmacy error can result in serious and even fatal consequences for any patient, the very young are at an especially high risk. This is a frightening thought, considering that pharmacy errors are much more common than most people believe. Indeed, it is estimated that there are over 63,000 medication errors involving child patients each year. This amounts to one error approximately every eight minutes.

Researchers have noted that the most common type of medication error involving a child patient is when the prescribed medication is an analgesic or a cold/cough syrup. Commonly, these medications result in the pharmacist providing patients with a double-dose of the prescribed medication. That being said, it is not unheard of for a pharmacist to give a parent the wrong medication altogether.

When a pharmacist error results in patient harm, the injured patient may be able to pursue a claim for compensation through a Maryland pharmacy error lawsuit. While proving that an error was made is not necessarily difficult in many cases, establishing that the error resulted in a patient’s injuries can be challenging. For this reason, many pharmacy error cases require expert testimony to help prove causation.

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