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Reducing medication errors and improving patient outcomes is not a recent concern; however, the recent healthcare worker shortages have increased the likelihood of Maryland pharmaceutical errors. Improving the judicious use of prescription medications and reducing adverse reactions has been at the forefront of the public health movement. While these are legitimate concerns, they do not address the issues that stem from healthcare worker errors. Even simple errors can have long-term and disastrous consequences for a patient.

Medication errors refer to “an act that through ignorance, deficiency, or accident departs from or fails to achieve what should be done.” In the context of medication and pharmacy errors, patients maintain five “rights,” including the right medication, right dosage, right route, right time, and right patient.

Although errors occur for various reasons, some factors enhance the likelihood and severity of a mistake. These reasons include poorly written communications, failure to obtain informed consent, and systemic issues. Computerized systems and changing orders to plain English have helped to reduce errors. However, many pharmacies are understaffed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and increased demand for tests and vaccinations.

Pharmaceuticals and other medical treatments are trusted by patients and regulators in part because they are assumed to be consistent from batch to batch. Although the medications may be manufactured by different companies in different factories under differing conditions, it is expected that each unit of a prescribed or nonprescribed medication contains what is listed on the packaging, no more and no less. The manufacturer of a commonly used medication in treating type-2 diabetes has recalled thousands of pills because a known carcinogen was found in certain batches of the medication manufactured over a six-month period.

According to a press release supplied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Viona Pharmaceuticals, a generic manufacturer of the type-2 diabetes medication Metformin, has agreed to recall 23 lots of the drug. During a quality control test, the manufacturer learned that some of the drugs tested contained unacceptable levels of NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylamine), which is a substance that is known to experts to cause cancer in larger amounts. Based on these findings, Viona Pharmaceuticals has agreed to recall the affected lots. The recalled lots of Metformin have expiration dates between June 2022 and January 2023.

Patients who have been prescribed Metformin that expires within the above-noted date range should reach out to their medical provider to determine if their batch is part of the recall, and to obtain replacement medication if needed. The press release makes it clear that patients with recalled medication should continue to take the pills they have until replacement medication is delivered. This is important because a patient’s failure to take their medication because of the recall could result in more serious consequences by aggravating their illness.

Dispensing errors are an unfortunate yet frequently occurring situation in many retail and hospital pharmacies. While some Maryland pharmacy errors may not result in severe consequences, other errors can be deadly to consumers and patients. In addition to thousands of health supplements, herbs, and lotions, nearly 7,000 prescription medications and countless over-the-counter drugs are available in the country. Pharmacy errors are occurring at an alarming rate because of the growing number of pharmaceutical and holistic substances on the market in conjunction with staff shortages.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, about 8,000 people die because of a medication error every year, and hundreds of thousands of patients experience adverse reactions or other complications. These startling numbers result in exorbitant costs; additionally, many patients experience physical pain and psychological suffering because of medication errors.

While there are many reasons that pharmacy errors occur, the primary causes stem from communication failure, illegible handwriting, incorrect selection, and pharmacist or technician confusion. While some errors involve human error, others involve flawed or defective automated systems. In some cases, the combination of these errors results in improper dispensing.

The seriousness and speed with which the Covid-19 pandemic has overburdened the American medical system has been troubling. Because of the urgent dangers presented by the virus, drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies have been incentivized to develop and market preventative and therapeutic medications to address Covid-19 as quickly as possible. Because these medications are urgently needed, the Food and Drug Administration has been unable to fully test and approve all of the new drugs, instead of granting some of the emergency use authorization while the full approval is pursued.

An antiviral drug regimen that was recently developed by Pfizer has shown much promise at preventing serious cases of Covid-19 based on early studies. The FDA has granted emergency use authorization to the treatment, however, not all of the possible side effects and interactions are yet known. A recently published pharmaceutical industry report discusses possible side effects of the new treatment in patients with moderate to severe kidney disease and emphasizes the requirement for pharmacists to make dosage adjustments for such patients who are prescribed the drugs.

According to the industry report, the new drug regimen Paxlovid was developed by Pfizer and granted emergency use authorization by the FDA. The drug regimen is indicated to be used by patients who have tested positive for the virus that causes Covid-19 and is at moderate to high risk of being hospitalized or dying from the virus. Because the drugs appear to react differently in people with abnormal kidney function, the emergency use authorization included a dosage adjustment instruction for patients with moderate kidney disease. Under the emergency use authorization, patients with severe kidney disease should not be prescribed the treatment at all.

In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, many pharmacies have been stretched to their limits because pharmacists are often manning the phones, the drop-off and pick-up area in the pharmacy itself, dealing with drive-through customers, and giving out vaccinations—all at the same time.

No matter how busy a pharmacy or pharmacist team is, however, consumers should be able to trust that the medication they are receiving is correct. Because pharmacists must exercise extreme attention to detail when prescribing medication down to the type, dose, and patient who is receiving the prescription, when a mistake is made, it can often have devastating consequences. When pharmacies are especially busy and prone to mistakes, it is more crucial than ever that they are held accountable for any injuries or issues their mistakes may cause.

According to a recent local news report, a Baltimore pharmacy has temporarily stopped administering COVID-19 vaccines because its staff has been stretched to its limits. In addition to the global pandemic resulting in a greater demand for pharmacy services, a state-required audit of Maryland pharmacies has pushed already busy pharmacies to their breaking point. Although the state of Maryland offered an extension, the owner of the Baltimore pharmacy stated that holding off for a few extra weeks simply would not be enough.

COVID-19 has made an indelible impact on almost every aspect of a person’s life, and while there is hope on the horizon, the effects continue to reverberate. One significant impact is the ongoing staff and supply shortages at many pharmacies. Pharmaceutical shortages can be deadly to some consumers, but employee shortages can also result in Maryland pharmacy errors. A recent piece from NBC highlighted how these shortages impact the health of those throughout the country.

Pharmacy technicians primarily work in retail pharmacies and hospital pharmacies. Pharmacies are reporting that many of their technicians are leaving in droves because of the increasing demand. The majority of the workers behind a pharmacy counter are pharmacy technicians. These positions are often low-wage and do not require an advanced degree. Technicians are responsible for counting pills, filling prescriptions, and checking inventory. All of these duties are fundamentally important to ensuring consumer safety.

Although many understand that working in a pharmacy is inherently fast-paced, many technicians argue that the wage has not kept up with the workload. Most importantly, workers explained that the demands led to safety issues for consumers. Workers expressed that the stresses and influx of work made them far more likely to make mistakes or catch errors. These errors can have life-threatening and deadly consequences for those who rely on pharmacists and technicians for their medication.

As we all get older, it is often common to also see the number of health ailments increase. With these increased health issues, more medication and the regular upkeep of taking specific prescriptions at the right time and in the right dose also often comes into play.

Sometimes, with multiple medications at different times of the day and in different doses, it can be overwhelming to keep up with them. At a minimum, however, consumers should be able to trust that the medications they pick up from the pharmacy are accurate both in substance and in dosage. With so many people relying on pharmacies to dispense the correct medication—which sometimes can be necessary for survival or basic comfort—when a pharmacy makes a mistake that causes injury or even death for consumers, they must be held accountable.

According to a recent news report, a pharmacy admitted that errors were made when dispensing medication to an 82-year-old woman who later died. The woman was allegedly given a strong anti-depressant instead of a prescription that was supposed to treat water retention problems. After taking the incorrect medication, the woman was reportedly unable to communicate, shaking, and did not appear to be herself. The woman was taken to the hospital and died later that day. However, following her death, there has been debate as to whether it was truly the pharmacy’s dispensing error that led to her death. The incident remains under investigation because the woman had several other health issues and medications, which, when mixed, may have contributed to her death also.

The COVID-19 vaccine and booster rollout have brought on a feeling of hope and relief for many people throughout the country. However, like any other pharmaceutical or holistic remedy, there are various points where something can go awry. Maryland and federal law surrounding vaccine errors involve the complex interplay of various legal theories and immunities. As such, those who have experienced a pharmaceutical injury should contact an experienced attorney to discuss their rights and potential remedies.

Generally, when a person suffers injury after a vaccine, they may seek damages and benefits through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Lawmakers designed this program to compensate those who have suffered injuries because of a vaccine. However, the program does not cover all vaccinations and generally applies to standard inoculations such as childhood vaccines and the flu shot. Common vaccine side effects include injection site reactions, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, and fever. In more serious and rare cases, vaccines may result in shoulder injury, autoimmune disorders, and cognitive issues.

The public has reacted in a myriad of ways after the release of the COVID-19 vaccine. Despite promising results, the medications have not been subject to the standard timeline of many other vaccines. However, the top complaints to the Institution of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) involve vaccine errors instead of vaccine injury.

When you take a prescription drug, there are often numerous warnings and disclaimers that are included with the medication you are taking. Pharmaceutical drug manufacturers are often subject to labeling requirements and regulations that ensure consumers and their physicians are adequately warned about the potential risks of a medication. Thus, when a warning label fails to account for a risk that and it results in a patient injury, consumers often bring lawsuits against the company alleging a failure to warn and seeking compensation.

In a recent circuit court opinion, the court considered details surrounding warning labels on drugs. In the case at hand, the plaintiff was diagnosed with advanced-stage kidney disease after taking a drug manufactured by the defendant. According to the plaintiff, the defendant pharmaceutical manufacturing company should have more explicitly warned his doctor to regularly monitor his kidney function after prescribing the drug. If the drug’s warning label had been better, the plaintiff contended, then the physician would have monitored him differently after prescribing the drug, discovered the impact on his kidneys sooner, and prevented his injury. The lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant manufacturing company.

On appeal, the court considered whether summary judgment was proper in dismissing the plaintiff’s failure to warn claim. The plaintiff argued that the lower court erred in concluding that his doctor, as a matter of undisputed fact, would have pursued the same course of treatment no matter what the warning label stated. The circuit court agreed, holding that the lower court erred in granting summary judgment to the defendants.

During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of quality medical personnel and staff was amplified more than ever.

Pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and hospitals, however, were incredibly busy places even before the pandemic, where medical professionals are often overworked and frequently understaffed. Because overwhelming demand and limited supply can create longer hours and higher pressure working environments for our medical professionals, mistakes often happen. Most commonly, mistakes take place when administering or prescribing medication to patients, which can have deadly consequences.

According to a recent news report, a federal jury found three of the country’s largest pharmacy chains liable for contributing to the opioid crisis in two counties. The verdict was the first time that the retail arm of the drug industry has ever been held accountable in what is now a decades-long opioid epidemic. In this case, the plaintiffs argued that major retailers CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart had turned a blind eye to suspicious opioid orders for years. At both local pharmacies and corporate headquarters, the plaintiffs argued, oversight requirements in all three major retailers failed to take red flags into account, which led to the pharmaceutical companies contributing to the creation and sustained nature of the opioid public health crisis.

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