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Many people’s lives are saved by state-of-the-art medical devices. Those that suffer from health conditions requiring medical devices often rely not only on their doctor’s advice, but also on the manufacturers that design and construct these devices. However, too many patients suffer injuries as a result of defects in these medical devices. When a defective product causes an injury, the manufacturer may be liable through a Maryland product liability lawsuit.

Medical devices include any accessory that medical practitioners use to diagnose and treat a disease, illness, or injury. Some common examples of medical devices are defibrillators, artificial hips, pacemakers, implants, intrauterine devices, vaginal mesh, and stents. Although many of these devices are designed to help patients who are suffering from severe medical conditions, they often present many dangerous side effects themselves. Maryland patients injured by these devices may hold the manufactures or other parties associated with the distribution and marketing of the mechanism responsible for their injuries.

For example, a plaintiff recently filed a product liability lawsuit against a medical device manufacturer. In this case, the manufacturer designed the sling that was implanted to treat her urinary incontinence. After the implantation, the woman suffered thinning of her urethral wall and cystitis. She argued that her injuries were because of design defects in the device and filed a lawsuit based on negligence, defective design, and failure to warn. She presented expert testimony to support her claim that the device caused her injuries. Both the trial and the appellate court held that the manufacturer could be held liable to the woman for her injuries.

When a patient picks up prescription medication from a pharmacy, they assume that the instructions given to them on the medication are correct, and that the medication won’t harm them. But unfortunately, far too many Maryland patients are harmed each year as a result of a pharmacy error. One common type of error is failing to warn the patient about potential side effects that may occur, and when the patient should stop taking the medication because of those side effects.

Pharmacies have a duty to warn their patients about the common side effects of drugs and can be held liable in some instances for injuries sustained if they fail to warn. For instance, if a drug causes drowsiness and patients taking the drug are advised not to drive while on it, the pharmacy must warn patients of this. If not, they could be held liable for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident if it was caused by the side-effect of the drug. Plaintiffs bringing a negligence suit in these cases can recover monetary damages if they can prove the elements of a negligence suit: that the pharmacy had a duty to warn their patients, that they breached this duty, that the breach was the proximate cause of the injury, and that real damages were suffered as a result of the injury.

Recently, a state appellate court considered a case arising from this very type of accident. According to the court’s written opinion, the patient had purchased a prescription drug product at her local pharmacy. The bottle given to her with the product had instructions to “Finish All Of This Medicine Unless Otherwise Directed By Your Doctor.” The bottle did not include any warning to stop using the product if the patient developed a skin rash or other adverse reaction.

When someone is injured because of someone else’s negligent actions, Maryland law allows the victim to seek monetary compensation from the responsible party. Victims of car or truck accidents, slip and fall cases, or medical malpractice, for example, can bring a Maryland personal injury claim. However, these personal injury cases are all subject to a certain statute of limitations, which is the period of time within which you must bring the case. For example, if the statute of limitations is two years, a plaintiff must file the case within two years after the accident occurs. A failure to do so will result in the claim being barred, and the victim will not be able to receive the compensation they deserve from the responsible party.

In Maryland, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases can be complicated, because sometimes the injury can occur long before the victim realizes. Maryland law accounts for this under Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code section 5-109, which states that a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within five years of when the injury occurred, or within three years of when the injury was discovered by the victim, whichever comes first. The discrepancy between the two dates can cause confusion and complicate lawsuits, making it difficult for plaintiffs to receive compensation for their injuries.

In a recent opinion, a state appellate court considered a situation like this, in which the plaintiff was not aware of the injury at the time it occurred. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff, suffering from psoriatic arthritis, was prescribed Remicade by his doctor, which he continued to take for over two years. However, just over two years after he began taking the medicine, the plaintiff developed severe neuropathy. This neuropathy caused weakness, and the plaintiff lost the ability to walk and use his hands and arms. The plaintiff stopped taking Remicade but alleged that he was not aware that the medication was responsible for his injuries. According to the plaintiff, it was over a year before a different doctor told him that Remicade was the likely cause of his injuries. By that point, it had been over a year since the injury occurred, but the plaintiff only just found out about it. Thus, medical malpractice rules that account for this potential discrepancy are incredibly important for preserving a plaintiff’s right to bring a personal injury claim.

Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion addressing issues that frequently occur in Maryland pharmacy error lawsuits. The lawsuit stemmed from the tragic death of a woman who received the wrong medication from her pharmacy. Evidently, the woman was treated at a hospital for fluid buildup in her lungs. At discharge, a nurse called the woman’s pharmacy, spoke to a pharmacy technician, and ordered a prescription for a diuretic. However, the technician made several errors when inputting the patient’s information, including wrong identifying information, incorrect spelling of the nurse’s name, and misspelling of several medications. However, the most egregious error was misreporting a medication and dosage. This error had severe consequences, as the patient died as a result of the incorrect medication.

The woman’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital and the pharmacy, alleging damages for negligence and requesting additional damages due to aggravating circumstances. The hospital settled their claims, and the lawsuit against the pharmacy proceeded to trial. The pharmacy moved to dismiss the aggravating circumstances portion of the lawsuit. The trial court granted the motion, and the jury awarded the family two million dollars in damages; however, the amount was significantly reduced because of the applicable damage caps. The family appealed the judge’s decision to dismiss the aggravating circumstances element of their claim.

Under Maryland law, pharmacy error plaintiffs can recover damages for the injuries they sustained because of the pharmacy’s negligence. Maryland law allows plaintiffs to recover compensatory damages to make them “whole again.” There are two main types of compensatory damages, special and general. Special damages are usually tangible costs that the plaintiff incurred because of the defendant’s negligence. Whereas, general damages are those that cannot be easily quantifiable, such as pain and suffering.

Pharmacy errors frequently occur in retail pharmacies in Maryland and throughout the country. These errors are recognized as common, and experts are always coming up with new ways to reduce them. However, Maryland pharmacy errors involving mail-order prescriptions are infrequently discussed and they raise the very same concerns as retail pharmacy errors. Without having to hand a prescription to a patient in person, a prescription can be addressed and mailed to the wrong person. In a recent federal appeals court decision, the court held that the pharmacy may still be held liable in the case of an elderly patient who failed to read the labels on the medication bottles before taking the medications.

In that case, the mother was mistakenly mailed prescription medications by a mail-order pharmacy contractor. A pharmacy put in an order for prescriptions to be sent to a customer, but the contractor mistakenly shipped the package to the plaintiff’s mother. She regularly received medications by mail, and the package at issue was similar to other packages she had received. The outside of the package had the mother’s name and address, but the bottles of medication listed the other patient’s name, doctor, and medication. The mother was elderly and “barely literate,” and did not read the labels before she took the pills.

After taking the pills, the mother started to experience hallucinations and confusion. She fell and fractured her leg a few days later. She was hospitalized for the fracture, and stayed in the hospital for almost a month. She was treated for other medical issues that arose during her stay, and she died about ten days after she was discharged from the hospital.

When a patient takes a prescription to the pharmacy to get it filled, they assume that the medication they are picking up is the one prescribed by their physician. However, that is not always the case. Indeed, each year, there are thousands of Maryland pharmacy errors, many of which result in severe injury or death.

Patients should be vigilant when it comes to double-checking all prescription medication for themselves, as well as for their loved ones. Pharmacy errors can occur in many ways; below is a partial list of some of the more common types of pharmacy errors.

Giving the patient the wrong medication: Perhaps the most common type of pharmacy error is when a pharmacist provides the patient with the wrong medication. These errors are very dangerous because the patient ends up taking a drug that they were not prescribed in an unknown dose. Additionally, the patient is not receiving the medication that they were prescribed, potentially worsening any existing condition.

One of the best ways to prevent Maryland pharmacy errors is to double-check all medications are accurate before taking them. Of course, children cannot check their own prescriptions, and rely on their parents to do so. However, most parents reasonably assume that the medicine given to them by a pharmacist is correct. A recent news report illustrates that it is not always the case.

According to a report by the New York Times, at least 17 children in Spain suffered a rare disorder called “werewolf syndrome,” also known as hypertrichosis, in which they grow hair all across their body. Evidently, the children were all prescribed medication to treat heartburn. However, the medicine was mislabeled, and the children’s parents were given a drug to treat hair loss. In all, 17 children were affected by the medication mix-up. Medical experts told reporters that the hair should start to fall out within three months of when the children stop taking the medication.

Apparently, several pharmacies were sent minoxidil, the main ingredient in many prescription and over-the-counter hair-growth treatments, instead of omeprazole, which treats acid reflux. The medication originated from India; however, it is unclear where and how the error occurred. Spanish authorities are currently investigating the error, and trying to learn more about how it happened so future mistakes can be prevented.

Although the Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not currently list medical errors as a cause of death, medical errors claim more than 250,000 lives per year. If listed among other causes of death, this figure would be the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. Not surprisingly, Maryland pharmacy errors are among the leading causes of death in the state.

While there are many types of medical errors, one of the more common types is a prescription error, or pharmacy error. A pharmacy error occurs when a patient brings a prescription to a pharmacy to get filled and the pharmacy provides the patient with something other than what they were supposed to receive. Most commonly, prescription errors involve one or more of the following errors:

  • The wrong medication;

The issuance and administration of medication can seem routine, but those procedures result in millions of errors, many of which are preventable. In the case of a medication error, a victim may be able to recover compensation if they are able to prove that the provider was negligent and that they suffered harm as a result.

In a medical negligence claim, plaintiff has to show that a defendant healthcare professional owed the plaintiff a duty of care, that the healthcare professional failed to meet the standard of care in acting or failing to act in some way, that the plaintiff was injured because of that failure, and that the healthcare professional’s lack of care caused the plaintiff injuries. Medication error cases can be difficult to prove, particularly because the patient is often already sick and suffering from some disease or condition to begin with. Reliable expert testimony is often crucial in these cases.

Plaintiffs in medication error cases may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, physical therapy expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and other damages.

It is estimated that pharmacy errors are responsible for between two to five percent of global hospital admissions. While determining the exact number of Maryland pharmacy error victims is difficult to determine due to the lax reporting requirements, experts believe that at least seven million people fall victim to medical errors each year. What’s more, the same experts believe that nearly a third of these errors are entirely preventable.

Of course, not all pharmacy errors result in patient harm. Most often, pharmacy errors that do result in harm to the patient involve at least one high-risk medication. However, the term “high-risk medication,” is somewhat controversial in that it implies that less attention needs to be paid to anything that is not a high-risk medication. Nonetheless, the term is commonly used to refer to medicines that are frequently involved in errors or present heightened risks of harm.

An industry news source recently published an article discussing what pharmacists can do to reduce the frequency of pharmacy errors. The article identifies several risk areas where pharmacists should pay extra attention.

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