Causation in Maryland Pharmacy Error Cases

Some pharmacy errors can be difficult to prove because patients are often already sick and suffering before the error. In any Maryland medical negligence claim, a plaintiff must establish the following elements: 1.) a healthcare professional owed the plaintiff a duty of care; 2.) the healthcare professional failed to meet the relevant standard of care; 3.) the plaintiff was injured as a result of that failure; and 4.) the professional’s lack of care caused the plaintiff injuries.

Proving causation means showing that the plaintiff was injured as a result of the professional’s breach of the standard of care. Simply showing that a healthcare professional did something wrong is not enough—a plaintiff must also show that the act caused the plaintiff’s injury.

The plaintiff has to prove causation by showing that it is “more probable than not” that the professional’s negligent act caused the plaintiff’s injury. This can be tricky if the patient was already suffering from health issues, or if there may have been more than one cause of the injury, for example. In a medical error case, there is almost always an underlying issue that caused the patient to receive medication, and patients often have multiple issues and several care providers. A recent study discussed some common medication safety risks in health care.

Common Medication Safety Risks

In a recent article, the Director of Error Reporting Programs at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices described certain medication safety risks that can go overlooked. First is the manufacturer’s labeling of per-liter electrolyte content on various sizes of IV bags. On some IV bags, electrolyte concentrations are written in volumes listed per liter rather than per container volume. Such labeling can be confusing to practitioners. In a recent incident, a pharmacist ran out of one type of bag, and consequently used the wrong calculation on the new bag, which used liter concentrations instead of per-container concentrations.

Another safety risk is drawing more than one dose into a syringe. Some practitioners may draw more than one dose into a syringe because they anticipate needing additional doses of the medication for the same patient in the future. In one incident, a nurse was ordered to draw up 100 mg of ketamine for a patient that was in distress, but drew up 500 mg of ketamine in case she needed to give him more of the medication later. The nurse meant to give him just 100 mg, but accidentally gave him the entire 500 mg. The patient went into cardiac arrest and could not be resuscitated.

There is also a safety risk regarding the discharging of patients who do not understand their discharge medications. The study suggests that health care professionals are not sufficiently preparing patients to leave the hospital and go home. The author explained that between thirty and seventy percent of patients experience a medication error in the weeks after they are hospitalized, and that may errors are serious or life-threatening.

The final safety risk discussed in the study involves improper and unsafe vaccine storage. Most vaccines must be stored in a refrigerator or freezer, and many require protection from light, and heat regulation. The improper storage of vaccines can also lead to mixing up vaccines that were not properly organized.

Contact an Experienced Team of Medical Error Attorneys

If you have been injured, and believe a healthcare professional may be at fault, contact the Maryland pharmacy error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. Our attorneys have over twenty years of experience litigating claims related to serious medication errors in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. area. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen understand what it takes to build a successful case and aggressively pursue compensation for our clients. Call 1-800-654-1949 or 410-654-3600 or contact us online for a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Three Common Causes of Prescription Errors in Maryland and Nationwide, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, September 24, 2018.

Experts Warn Against Physicians Texting Prescriptions to Pharmacies, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, October 1, 2018.

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