Massachusetts lawmakers, and specifically the state’s Board of Registration in Pharmacy, have been under increased scrutiny following the deadly meningitis outbreak that occurred last year.
Prior to the outbreak, the regulators changed course regarding a decision to shut down a Massachusetts pharmacy whose medication error sent a teenager to the emergency room with a heart attack. While they claim to still be investigating, they have yet to take disciplinary action against the responsible pharmacy.
According to state records, in July of 2011 Royal Palm Specialty Pharmacy reportedly accidentally gave a patient thyroid medication that was 1,000 times too concentrated. This devastating error required hospitalization for serious heart complications. The board reportedly only found out about the error after the boy’s mother called to complain, four months later.
According to state documents, instead of supplying 10 microgram capsules of the relevant thyroid medication, the pharmacy apparently provided capsules containing 10,000 micrograms.
After taking the drug, the teenager had to be taken to an emergency room four times and hospitalized twice in August 2011 for heart problems. The symptoms still plague the young man, as he reportedly continues to experience generalized weakness and heart palpitations.
Investigators found that the pharmacy did not report the overdose to the state board, even though they are required to report any errors that lead to death or serious injury within 15 days. A pharmacist for the company says that she did not report the error, because she did not know the extent of the harm to the young man, as she could not get in touch with his mother. The pharmacist has since been reprimanded by the state for the error.
The pharmacy assured the board that it would double check calculations and better label products, so that pharmacists would be able to clearly discern when they have to dilute drugs prior to filling orders. However, an inspection this January allegedly revealed that the pharmacy continues to violate state laws meant to prevent these sorts of errors from occurring.
Controversy further surrounds the fact that four out of the seven current board members were on the board last year when the initial meningitis outbreak occurred. Three of those four also allegedly voted to reverse the shutdown of the Royal Palm pharmacy just one week after the vote to shut it down. Four positions remain unfilled on the 11 member un-paid board.
It is unfortunate that following the devastating meningitis outbreak that occurred last Fall that Massachusetts lawmakers have failed to take meaningful action regarding compounding pharmacies. While a bill is currently awaiting approval within a committee, the potential impact of compounding pharmacy errors remains.
The problem with compounding pharmacies is that they are largely unregulated, as in this case, and thus not subject to as much oversight, and further that they may fill prescriptions shipped over state lines. Thus, the potential errors that they may make, as we witnessed with the meningitis outbreak, can potentially be felt nationwide.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a pharmacy error or medication misfill, contact the pharmacy error injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers immediately. Our firm has extensive experience in representing victims of medication errors in Maryland who have been harmed by taking the wrong medications. We will fight zealously on your behalf in order to secure a settlement or judgment that compensates you for the medical bills, pain and suffering, physical therapy, and any related costs or damages you may have incurred due to a pharmacy or medication error. Contact us today through our website to schedule your free initial consultation in order to discuss your case. You can reach us through our website, or by calling (800) 654-1949.
More Blog Posts:
Dangerous Drug Disaster Narrowly Avoided When Vitamin Substituted with Resuscitation Medication, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published July 11, 2013
Man Given Opposite of Intended Medication Sues Pharmacy, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published July 2, 2013