Is there anything more frightening or devastating? We trust our medical providers to ensure we are not harmed by careless errors. But studies show that almost 10% of prescriptions are filled in error! Serious organ damage, injury, and even death can result when errant or incorrect medications are provided. Pharmacist errors are becoming increasingly more problematic due to the ever increasing numbers of medications available – it can be very easy to confuse medications as so many of them look alike.
Types Of Pharmacy Errors
There are generally two types of pharmaceutical errors – giving the patient the wrong medication, or giving the patient the right medication but in the wrong dosage. Additionally, allergic reactions might occur when various medications are taken at the same time.
- Dispensing the wrong medication - Dispensing the wrong medication occurs when the patient's doctor prescribed the correct medication, but the pharmacist or an assistant filled the prescription with the wrong medication. This kind of error can happen for any number of reasons, including illegible prescriptions, incorrect labeling, and poor pharmacy standard operating policies. Some pharmacies even reward their employees for speed and volume, but fail to account for the importance of patient safety.
- Wrong dosage - Dispensing the wrong dosage usually occurs when the patient's doctor prescribed the correct dosage of an appropriate medication and the pharmacist or pharmacy technician provided the right medicine in the wrong dosage. This prescription error can occur for a number of reasons including negligent pharmacy policies that reward speed and prescription volume without taking into account patient safety.
- Look alike drugs - Confusion between drugs that look alike or have similar sounding names is a widely recognized problem. With so many similar looking and sounding drug names, it is important, and professionally required, that pharmacists take precautions to ensure the proper medications are dispensed.
- Miscommunications between doctor and pharmacist - Miscommunications occur when a pharmacist doesn’t check a drug name and dosage with the patient’s doctor, or when a pharmacist fails to confirm that the patient is not allergic to the prescribed medication or when they fail to learn of other medications the patient is taking which can be harmful if combined with the prescribed drug, among other scenarios.
What Causes Pharmaceutical Errors?
- Fewer pharmacists, but more and more prescriptions
- Too many medications and not enough time for pharmacists to verify properly
- Speed takes precedence over safety
- Inadequate pharmacy processes and checklists
- Lack of proper supervision
- Incentivizing volume over safety
How Are Pharmaceutical Errors Determined?
It’s important to collect all medical records from a patient’s doctors and medical providers. These records are then compared with pharmacy records, and if available, samples of medications remaining in the patient’s possession. Expert witnesses may provide testimony about the medications provided, and their interaction with other drugs being taken. Other times hand written doctor prescriptions are analyzed – was a clearly written prescription misread? Did the pharmacist call the doctor to confirm what the proper prescription might be?
Drug Errors Can Be Prevented!
Errors involving prescription drugs are preventable! When pharmacys implement proper standards and procedures, there should be no errors! It is a professional requirement that pharmacists exercise at least a minimal reasonable degree of care in providing medications. Failure to do so can result in catastrophic damage, injury and death to patients who otherwise place their trust in these medical professionals.
Improper medications and prescriptions can result in dangerous toxicity, leading to further injury and sometimes death. Some medications carry long term harmful effects. If you or a family member has suffered injury or damage due to improper medications and pharmacist error, you may be entitled to be compensated for your injury and loss. Contact the Byrne Law Group today to discuss your unique situation. Call 813-413-6565 today for a FREE CONSULTATION or complete the form.