Pharmacy Error Rates May Be Artificially Low Due to a Lack of Mandatory Reporting Requirements

Chances are anyone who has followed the news over the past few months has noticed at least one serious pharmacy error occurring at either a hospital or a retail pharmacy. Indeed, the Food and Drug Administration estimates that there is on average one death per day in addition to approximately 1.3 million people harmed per year by pharmacy errors. However, these statistics are only estimates because the real number of errors cannot be determined, due to discretionary reporting requirements.

As the law stands now, pharmacies are not required to report most of the errors that their pharmacists make. While some errors come to the public’s attention due to widespread press coverage or because a pharmacy error victim files a personal injury lawsuit, many errors go unreported. Thus, the true number of pharmacy errors is unknown.

According to a recent article, our neighbors to the north in Ontario, Canada have begun to implement mandatory reporting requirements. Evidently, the change in the law was spurred on by the death of an eight-year-old boy last year. The report indicates that the boy suffered from sleeping problems and was prescribed tryptophan by his pediatrician. The boy’s mother called in the prescription and went to pick up what she thought was tryptophan, but what she was given was actually baclofen, a powerful muscle relaxer. After the boy’s death, the coroner reported that “logic would dictate that baclofen was substituted for tryptophan at the compounding pharmacy in error.”

Under Ontario’s new law, pharmacists must report both actual errors as well as near-misses. A near-miss is an error that, due to some break in the causal chain of events, does not end up causing any harm to the patient. Both errors and near-misses will be reported to a third party, which will be determined at a later date. Proponents of the new reporting requirement hope that the increase in transparency will result in pharmacists and researchers better understanding why errors occur so that they can implement plans to effectively decrease error rates.

Notably, none of the states in the U.S. has implemented mandatory reporting requirements. A few states have started the process, but nothing has been passed as of yet. It is likely that these efforts will be met with significant resistance from industry players as the reporting requirements get closer to becoming the law.

Have You Been a Victim of a Pharmacy Error?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a pharmacist’s error, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a pharmacy error lawsuit. The skilled attorneys at the personal injury and wrongful death law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing patients who have suffered from a pharmacy error nationwide. To learn more about how you may be able to obtain compensation for what you have been through, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Pharmacy Errors Occurring After a Transition to Long-Term Care, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, May 8, 2017.

Adverse Reactions to Prescription Medication, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, June 8, 2017.

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