Decimal-Point Mistakes Responsible for a Significant Number of Pharmacy Errors

Pharmacists rely heavily on an advanced command of mathematics to accurately fill prescriptions and avoid Maryland pharmacy errors. While some medications come pre-packaged, and all a pharmacist needs to do is double-check the physician’s instructions, other prescriptions require pharmacists to make small adjustments to dosage or administration instructions. This is especially the case in compounding pharmacies, which create specialized pharmaceutical compounds.

According to a recent industry news report, a significant number of pharmacy errors are caused by pharmacists incorrectly placing decimal points, or by the improper use of leading or trailing zeros. These errors, known as errors that involve a factor of 10, can result in a patient being given 10 times the required strength or one-tenth of the required strength, depending on the error.

The most common types of decimal point errors involve a pharmacist providing a patient with medication that is 10 times stronger than that which the patient’s physician prescribed. For example, if a physician prescribed a .5-mg dose, a pharmacist may miss the decimal point and provide the patient with a 5-mg dose. Of course, the dangers of this type of error are self-evident, especially when dealing with controlled substances.

Researchers determined that several common practices can lead to an increased probability of this type of error occurring. First, the use of trailing zeros after the numerical value tends to increase confusion about the dose amount. For example, a 5-mg dose written out as 5.0 is more likely to be filled at 50 mg than if the prescription were written out as 5 mg. Similarly, the use of leading zeros reduced confusion among pharmacists. Thus, for example, writing the prescription as 0.5 mg rather than .5 mg decreases the chance that an erroneous 5-mg dose would be provided.

It is also noted in the article that the similarity of drug names and doses can play a role in confusion, potentially increasing the risk of an error. For example, when similarly named drugs come in similar doses, it is much easier for a pharmacist to make a mistake. Of course, the ease with which a mistake can be made does not excuse a pharmacist’s negligence, and anyone injured as a result of a prescription error should consult with a dedicated attorney to discuss which options they may have.

Have You Been Injured Due to a Pharmacist’s Mistake?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a Maryland pharmacy error, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing injured clients and their families in cases against negligent pharmacists. To learn more about how you may be able to recover compensation for the injuries you or your loved one endured, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a Maryland pharmacy error attorney at Lebowitz & Mzhen. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are ultimately able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Workplace Pressure Is a Key Factor in the High Rate of Maryland Pharmacy Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, August 1, 2017.

Pharmacy Errors Involving Expired Medication, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, July 11, 2017.

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