Study Notes an Increase in Accidental Overdoses from Cancer Drug

Medical errors are all too common in hospitals throughout the country. In any Maryland medical error case, a plaintiff must show that the defendant was negligent in acting or failing to act in some way. There are four elements a plaintiff must prove in order to be successful in a medical negligence claim: a legal duty, a failure to perform that duty, causation, and damages.

Medical errors cases can be hard to prove in some cases because a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions or failure to act were the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. This can be tricky, especially in medical error cases, because patients are often already sick and proving causation is not always clear-cut. Additionally, the issues involved in the case are often complex and involve scientific principles beyond the understanding of most people. For that reason, such cases often rely on the testimony of experts.

In some cases, an expert is needed simply to understand whether mistakes were made and who may be at fault. As one example, a recent study revealed the problem of accidental overdoses from a drug that has been used on cancer patients for many years.

Study Reveals Accidental Overdoses from Fluorouracil Medication

Fluorouracil is an intravenous cancer drug that has been used to treat different types of cancers for over 50 years. A recent report from the National Institutes of Health found medication errors involving fluorouracil are often caused by confusion between the dose per day and the total dose over multiple days, dose miscalculations, confusing pharmacy labels, and other mistakes that are easily avoidable.

Over 250,000 people receive fluorouracil every year in the United States, according to the National institutes of Health. Around 8,000 people have a toxic reaction, and about 1,300 die from the reaction. The report found that medication errors and impaired clearance of the drug were primarily responsible for such incidents. In one case, a patient received two days-worth of the drug in a two-hour time period. Evidently, the pump had been programmed incorrectly. Luckily, a nurse noticed the mistake, but the patient experienced toxic side effects and was hospitalized for almost two weeks as a result of the error.

The report recommend that prescribers clearly state the dosage in single daily doses with direction to infuse over a certain number of days or hours, that smart pumps be used in ambulatory care settings, that staff be educated to program and connect ambulatory infusion pumps used at facilities, that dosages be double checked independently, and key information be standardized on pharmacy labels, and that staff be aware of the signs and symptoms of toxicity, among other recommendations.

Contact a Prescription Error Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury that you believe may be the result of a Maryland medical error, you may be entitled to compensation. At Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience representing victims of Maryland prescription errors, medical malpractice, and other negligent conduct. Our attorneys represent plaintiffs in medical malpractice and pharmacy error cases throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Contact us at 1-800-654-1949 or 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys today.

More Blog Posts:

Children Are Especially at Risk of Serious Injury or Death Following a Maryland Pharmacy Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, June 15, 2018.

Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Case in Recent Drug Overdose Case, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, June 1, 2018.

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