Pharmacists are medical professionals and – although it is not always evident to patients – a significant amount of work goes into filling each prescription. Aside from making sure that the correct drug, dose, and amount of medication is provided to a patient, pharmacists are also responsible for ensuring the quality of the medicine being provided to patients, and for making sure that prescribed medication is suitable for the patient.
The vast majority of the time, pharmacists deal with controlled substances that have not just the power to help a patient, but also the potential for danger. Some of these drugs may have serious side effects or exact dosing requirements, and many of the drugs handled by pharmacists can be habit-forming or addictive.
A recent article discussed the lack of safeguards in one hospital pharmacy that allowed a physician to overprescribe painkillers in fatal or near-fatal doses to 34 patients. Typically, the hospital required a pharmacist to approve a prescription electronically before a doctor or nurse can access the medication cabinet and obtain the drug to give to the patient. In the event of an emergency, access to the medicine cabinet was allowed through a physician override. Evidently, physicians were able to access all types of dangerous medications, including fentanyl and Versed, without having to justify the circumstances of the emergency.
According to the report, hospital administration realized that a significant number of a specific doctor’s patients were being provided high doses of narcotic painkillers. The physician, who worked in the Intensive Care Unit and routinely prescribed pain killers to his patients, was able to override warnings and obtain large doses of painkillers in 24 of the 27 cases examined by the state’s department of health. The physician was terminated after 34 patients were overprescribed painkillers, 28 of which were provided lethal doses of the medication.
The hospital pharmacy has since taken corrective measures to help ensure that this type of situation does not occur again in the future. For example, the pharmacy placed further limits on the medications that are available through an emergency override and define the parameters of what type of emergency warrants an override. The hospital has also begun requiring a pharmacist review emergency medicine orders each day.
Have You Been the Victim of a Medication Error?
If you or someone you love has recently been the victim of a medication error or other professional act of negligence of a doctor or pharmacist, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland pharmacy error lawsuit. At the Maryland medical malpractice firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC we represent victims of medical malpractice and their families pursue claims for compensation against those responsible for their injuries. We have over 20 years of experience handling pharmacy error cases across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, and look forward to talking with you about your situation. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Statutes of Limitations in Maryland Pharmacy Error Cases, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, January 23, 2019.
ISMP Hopes Maryland Pharmacists Will Take Extra Precautions After Fatal Pharmacy Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 4, 2019.