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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.

The federal government classifies medication as prescription-only for a reason. Often, this is because these drugs can have severe interactions with other medicines or because they carry the risk of severe side effects when not taken under close supervision. Any patient who receives the wrong medication from a pharmacy is at risk of developing a serious illness or condition, but young patients are perhaps most at risk following a Maryland pharmacy error.

Earlier this month, a local news source reported on a pharmacy error involving an eight-year-old girl’s medication. Evidently, the girl suffered from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Hemochromatosis, which caused her to experience severe pain in her joints. The girl’s physician prescribed her a 50 mg dose of Celecoxib, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat acute pain related to arthritis and similar conditions.

The girl took the medication without incident for a few months; however, earlier this year, when her father went to pick up the prescription, he was provided 200 mg pills. Not noticing the error, the girl’s father gave his daughter the medication. Not long after taking the first dose, she told her father that her stomach was hurting. Given the pain his daughter regularly experiences, the girl’s father was surprised to hear the girl complaining of a stomach ache, so he took her to the doctor.

When most patients need prescription medication, their doctor can write a prescription that can be filled by the patient at any pharmacy. However, for patients with allergies or sensitivities, or for those who cannot take a standardized drug, compounding pharmacies create specific medications catered to a patient’s individual needs. While compounding pharmacies help a lot of patients, patients of these pharmacies are at an increased risk of falling victim to a Maryland pharmacy error.

Given the niche patient-base they serve, compounding pharmacies are necessary. However, there are some serious safety concerns with these pharmacies. For instance, the medications that compounding pharmacies create are not subject to FDA testing or approval. This lack of oversight increases the chance of a serious pharmacy error.

Recently, a woman ended up with a large hole in her arm as a result of an error made by a compounding pharmacy. According to a local news report, the woman developed a seizure disorder in 2014. Due to other medical issues, she could not take a standard medication, and so her doctor prescribed a B-12 shot that was to be filled by a local compounding pharmacy. For years, the woman took the medicine as specified with no issues.

Maryland pharmacy errors are almost all preventable. Medication errors that occur in the hospital setting are no exception. While a doctor is typically the one who prescribes a patient medication, nurses are frequently the ones who administer the medicine. Often, nurses care for numerous patients, many of which share the same symptoms, take the same medications, or have similar names. It is this potentially confusing situation that introduces the risk that a nurse can make an error in administering medication to a patient.

A recent news report detailed a pharmacy error resulting in the death of a patient. Evidently, the patient, Mrs. Cook, was in room 26. Two doors down was another patient named Mrs. Cock. Mrs. Cock was prescribed hydromorphone, a powerful painkiller that was kept in a secured cabinet in the hospital’s medication room. However, Mrs. Cook was accidentally given Mrs. Cock’s hydromorphone pills. Within nine days, Mrs. Cook died.

Two nurses were present when Mrs. Cook was given the incorrect medication. When asked about the incident, the nurse who was primarily responsible for Mrs. Cook’s care claimed that a registered nurse who was helping out was responsible for the error. He also stated that he did not see the registered nurse administer the medication to Mrs. Cook because he was busy reviewing Mrs. Cook’s chart. The nurse acknowledged that the two women were “physically quite different.” He also admitted that Mrs. Cock was able to walk while Mrs. Cook was often confused and needed assistance with most daily activities.

Prescription medications are potent and potentially hazardous drugs that can cause serious illness or even death if not properly administered. While pharmacists are medical professionals who are required to obtain significant training and experience before they are allowed to serve customers, they are also human and subject to error. Because of this, Maryland patients should do all they can to reduce the chance of falling victim to a Maryland pharmacy error.

The duty to ensure that a patient receives the correct medication rests with the pharmacist. However, patients should not sit back and place complete trust in pharmacists, especially because several simple precautions can be taken to significantly reduce the chance of a Maryland medication mistake. By taking the precautions below, pharmacy patients can reduce the risk that they will become the victim of a Maryland pharmacy error.

  • Maintain a complete and accurate list of all medications: this list should be brought to all doctor’s appointments, as well as to the pharmacy when filling a prescription. Pharmacists should double-check the list a patient provides them with their records, and ensure that there are no two drugs with adverse interactions.

People who have family members in Maryland nursing homes should closely monitor the health of their loved ones. While many nursing homes offer quality care that is provided by compassionate and caring staff members, that is not always the case. Too often, nursing home management tries to cut corners on staffing costs by keeping the number of nurses and other employees at a minimum.

Not only does this mean that there are fewer staff members to help care for residents, but it also places a heightened burden on employees. In turn, this increases the chance that staff members will forget to give a staff member mediation or provide them with the wrong medication when they are in a hurry to move on to another task.

According to a local news article, a nursing home recently agreed to pay the family of a resident who died while in the facility’s care $11 million after reports emerged that the home failed to provide the resident with necessary antibiotic medication. Evidently, the wife of the deceased resident received a letter in the mail six weeks after her husband’s passing, explaining that “there is some information that was not shared with you in regards to the death of your husband.”

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