Articles Posted in Pharmacy Errors and Children

Pharmacists are trained professionals. Yet, pharmacy errors occur with frightening regularity. According to a recent industry news report, there are at least 1.5 million preventable pharmacy errors each year in the United States. While many Maryland pharmacy errors are the result of a pharmacist mixing up the names of similar-sounding drugs, the dosing errors are also very common.

Math is a very important part of a pharmacist’s job. In fact, a life changing pharmacy error can be caused by a very simple mistake involving simple arithmetic. The aforementioned article explains several pharmacy errors and how easy they can happen. For example, one pharmacy received a prescription for a baby weighing 13 pounds, 5 ounces. The prescription called for 333 milligrams Amoxicillin suspension every 12 hours for 7 days. Thus, according to the prescription, the child would receive 666 milligrams of the medication per day. The general medication guidelines for Amoxicillin provide for up to 25 milligrams of medication per kilogram, given in evenly-divided doses ever 12 hours.

The proper way to fill the prescription is as follows: The child weighs 13 pounds, 5 ounces, or approximately 6.05 kilograms. By multiplying this number by 25, the daily dose for the child should be about 151 milligrams. Because the medication should be dosed twice per day, 12 hours apart, each dose should be about 76 milligrams.

Maryland medication and pharmacy errors of any type are concerning, but they are of particular worry when they affect children. Children’s immune systems are more vulnerable than adults, and they may lack the ability to articulate and explain what is wrong or what is happening to them, making errors more difficult to detect. Because children’s bodies are still growing, certain errors can also inhibit growth and have serious long-term consequences. While relatively rare, all parents should be on the lookout for pharmacy errors when it comes to their children.

To make this easier for parents, The Pharmaceutical Journal recently announced a new initiative focused solely on this problem: inviting researchers to submit articles on the subject to be published, increasing the availability of information on prevention and common errors. The Journal hopes to publish articles on how pharmaceuticals can improve the health of children, new policies that may prevent errors of this kind, and evidence-based best practices across all sectors.

The Pharmaceutical Journal explained in depth why this initiative matters. Most research on pharmaceuticals and drug administration focuses on adults, who can be studied more easily with less ethical concerns. However, children are not simply small adults, and the data collected on adult subjects cannot necessarily be translated to children, whose bodies, physiology, are remarkably different. For instance, drug doses, which are generally standardized across all adults, perhaps only differing due to weight or sex, have to be individually calculated for every child receiving the drug, based on their age, weight, body surface area, and clinical condition. This individualized calculation may lead to more errors. Additionally, the physiology of children is changing, meaning that old processes and procedures for calculating dose calculations may now be incorrect. Specifically, obesity is on the rise, with the number of overweight or obese children increasing globally. Because of this, pharmacists should be particularly cautious when treating children, and more information on the subject could help them do just that.

Vaccinations are incredibly important to the health and safety of the human population. In fact, vaccinating one’s child is one of the most critical things that a parent can do to protect them and others from many diseases. However, as with any medication or injection, vaccinations do come with some slight risks of Maryland pharmacy errors and injuries or even death.

Understanding the risks and the importance of vaccinations, Congress enacted the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in 1986 so that those affected by vaccine-related injuries or the vaccine-related death of a loved one can petition to receive compensation for the tragic incident. Vaccine injury claims can only be litigated through this system, administered by the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. In the 43 years since the system began, $4.2 billion in compensation has been awarded to claimants.

There are two ways to qualify for compensation under the program. The first, and easier, way is to establish an injury listed on the Vaccine Act’s injury table that occurred within a designated period after the vaccine was received. If this can be shown, causation is presumed, and compensation is awarded. Injuries on the table include anaphylaxis, chronic arthritis, shoulder injuries, and paralytic polio.

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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