When people experience medical issues, they will, understandably, rely on healthcare professionals to provide them with appropriate treatment. Individuals should expect that their medical providers quickly and accurately diagnose them and prescribe the correct treatment and medication. When someone suffers injuries after taking the wrong medication or dosage, the provider or pharmacist may be liable under Maryland’s medical malpractice laws. Although mistakes can happen, medical providers have a duty to provide their patients with necessary and appropriate medical care. The failure to provide a patient with correct medication can lead to serious and life-threatening illnesses.
About 20 years ago, the Institute of Medicine released its “To Err is Human” report, highlighting the importance of building a safer health system. However, medication errors continue to be a serious risk for patients throughout Maryland and the United States. As the report suggests, pharmacists play a critical role during the prescribing, dispensing, and administration of medication, and they must take steps to prevent medication errors. A recent news report summarizes some of the most crucial steps pharmacies can take to reduce the likelihood of a Maryland pharmacy:
Organize the pharmacy: The inherent fast-paced and intense nature of pharmacies can result in disorganized and chaotic work spaces. Pharmacists should have a system in place to ensure that patients’ prescriptions and medications do not become lost or misidentified. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) advises that pharmacies use consistent systems, such as bins or baskets, to separate different patients’ prescriptions and medications.
Verify prescriptions: Pharmacies often struggle to meet the demands of doctors and patients while short-staffed. The result of understaffing can lead to a pharmacist mishearing a doctor’s orders or haphazardly transcribing incorrect notes. To avoid these types of errors, pharmacists should write down and repeat prescriptions to prescribing doctors. Moreover, in instances where medication is prescribed through an online system, pharmacists should make sure that they confirm the drug and read any notes the doctor may leave.
Use barcodes: Nearly every medication has a barcode that indicates the medication’s name, strength, and dosage. After orders are entered into the pharmacy’s system, pharmacists should take care to pull the correct drug from their inventory and verify that the barcode matches the doctor’s orders.
Quality control checks: When possible, pharmacies should have enough staff to ensure that at least two people are verifying that the correct drug is being dispensed. For example, if the pharmacist transcribes and enters the prescriptions, a tech or another pharmacist should pull the medication from the inventory before the pharmacist does the final check.
Implement warning systems: Pharmacies should have the most current software systems that provide warnings and alerts to pharmacists. These systems alert pharmacists to medication combination concerns and potential dosage errors.
Talking to patients: Pharmacists should take the time to explain medication use to patients and provide them with the opportunity to verify their medications and ask questions. This simple step can be crucial in stopping medication errors.
Pharmacies and pharmacists who fail to take these and other steps to prevent medication errors may be responsible for any resulting injuries or illnesses.
Have You Suffered Injuries Because of a Maryland Pharmacy Error?
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries as the result of a Maryland pharmacy error, contact the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers. The experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorneys have years of experience successfully representing and recovering compensation on behalf of injury victims. Our attorneys go to great lengths to provide our clients with compassion and fierce advocacy. Contact a Maryland pharmacy error attorney at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.