Recent Fatality Highlights the Potential Severity of Maryland Pharmacy Errors

Maryland pharmacy errors can lead to severe consequences for patients. Because prescription medications are often vital to a patient’s health and well being, pharmacy safety must be taken very seriously. When a pharmacy error occurs, patients may get sick or become injured, either because they took the wrong medication that was bad for them or because they did not take the correct medication that they actually needed. In some tragic cases, the error may even lead to death—highlighting the need for pharmacists and pharmacies to follow all safety protocols when filling prescriptions.

For example, a recent transcription error by a pharmacy technician taking medication orders over the phone led to a female patient’s death and a personal injury lawsuit seeking significant monetary damages. According to a report of the case by Pharmacy Times, a female patient was hospitalized for fluid buildup in her lungs. When it came time for her to be discharged, a nurse at the hospital called in her prescriptions at a local pharmacy. The call was being taken by a pharmacy technician, who made numerous transcription errors, misspelling the names of several medications and the name of the nurse, and recording an incorrect birth date for the patient. In addition, they made an error related to the dosage of the inhaler being prescribed (recording a dosage 10 times the correct amount).

Most significantly, the technician mis-recorded the daily dosage of methotrexate instead of the metolazone that was intended. The pharmacist on duty at the time approved the prescription, not realizing the error. But at trial, he testified that the dosage being prescribed would be safe for a patient once or twice per week, not on a daily basis. When the patient’s husband picked up the medication, he was provided no further counseling even though guidance and experts recommend counseling should be provided with new drugs, particularly high-alert ones like methotrexate. The patient, unfortunately, died as a result of the pharmacy error.

The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the pharmacy. At trial, the jury returned a verdict of $2 million, but the amount was reduced to $125,000 due to damage caps included in state law. The pharmacy chain then made a motion to dismiss a portion of the lawsuit focused on “aggravating circumstances,” which led to higher damages for the plaintiffs. Aggravating circumstances are circumstances in the case that increase the defendant’s culpability or the severity of their action. The judge granted the motion, but the appellate court found that to be an error. Specifically, the appellate court judges found that a jury could conclude that the pharmacy’s decision to not counsel on individual medications, as well as their failure to take corrective action after the woman’s death, were aggravating circumstances. The case was remanded for a new trial on that issue specifically.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

In this context, a wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit, brought by the surviving loved ones of someone who died as a result of a pharmacy error. These claims go a long way to compensate grieving families for their tragic loss and can also encourage all pharmacists to be more careful when filling patients’ prescriptions.

Have You Suffered from a Maryland Pharmacy Error?

If you have lost a loved one or otherwise suffered from a Maryland pharmacy error, call the personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, today. Our attorneys have years of experience helping pharmacy error victims hold negligent pharmacies accountable for the harm they cause. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, call 800-654-1949.

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