Medication errors are believed to be one of the leading causes of death across the United States. Indeed, there have been countless studies focusing on the causes of pharmacy errors and the best ways to reduce them. However, the fact remains that medication errors result in over 3.5 million hospitalizations each year, with over a million of those to the emergency room.
The exact number of patients harmed by Maryland pharmacy errors is difficult to determine. In part, this is due to the lax reporting requirements. In Maryland, as is common across the United States, pharmacists are not required to report most of their errors, and do so only voluntarily.
According to a recent investigative report, pharmacy errors are routinely swept under the rug and kept out of the public eye. The report recounts the case of a man who died after ingesting the wrong medication that he obtained from his local pharmacy. The man’s autopsy report confirmed that the pills on the bottle did not match those which he was prescribed. However, pharmacist “neither admitted or denied” the allegations, and was ultimately fined $3,000.
The report looked at data spanning the past four years, noting that there have been almost 500 reports of medication errors, two resulting in death and over 30 resulting in serious patient injury. Most of these errors were due to the patient being given the wrong medication by the pharmacist, but other errors were caused by the pharmacist providing the wrong dose or incorrect dosage instructions. And, of course, these were only the errors that were reported.
The report considers the consolidation of the retail pharmacy industry a significant factor in increasing the workload placed on pharmacists and, in turn, decreasing the amount of time spent filling each prescription. A spokesperson for the state’s association of pharmacists, explained the situations as “fill as fast as you can — try your best not to kill anyone.”
Pharmacist organizations, not surprisingly, are against mandatory reporting requirements and instead favor the current system of voluntary reporting with a focus on non-punitive follow-up responses. These organizations claim that voluntary reporting with a non-punitive focus encourages pharmacists to report all errors so that the causes of the mistakes can better be researched and prevented. By requiring mandatory reporting, some argue pharmacists are less likely to be truthful in their reports, leading again to the feared decrease in reporting of errors.
Have You Been the Victim of a Pharmacy Error?
If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of a Maryland pharmacy error, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC we have assembled a dedicated team of Maryland pharmacy error attorneys to represent our clients in claims against negligence pharmacists and the pharmacies that employ them. We have decades of experience handling complex pharmacy error claims, and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalves. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Statutes of Limitations in Maryland Pharmacy Error Cases, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, January 23, 2019.
ISMP Hopes Maryland Pharmacists Will Take Extra Precautions After Fatal Pharmacy Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 4, 2019.