Of course, no pharmacist intentionally means to harm a patient. In fact, they intend to use every resource at their disposal to prevent harming a patient. But they can be a victim of their own circumstance.
In case you haven’t noticed lately, pharmacy environments can be very chaotic. Pharmacists are called upon to dispense medication, phone doctors, phone patients, work the drive-through and the counter, give flu shots, provide counsel on OTC medication as well as the ones they are dispensing, and the list goes on and on. The “big box” pharmacies are frequently understaffed and the pharmacists are over-worked – potentially driven to distraction that MAY result in an error in a prescription. In a NY Times article recently, a pharmacist wrote an anonymous letter stating, “I am a danger to the public working for CVS.” And not a lot is being done to address these dangerous issues related to staffing in our community pharmacies.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website contains the following information regarding medication errors:
- Medication errors are defined as preventable events that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm,
- Many different types of healthcare providers can be responsible for medication errors, including physicians, surgeons, pharmacists, and even technicians entering drug information into an electronic system,
- More than 100,000 medication error reports are logged by the FDA every year, and
- Common types of medication mistakes include dispensing the wrong medication, dispensing the wrong amount of a medication, and failing to consider patient allergies or drug interactions.
If you have suffered injuries due to a medication mistake, you should discuss your case with a medical malpractice lawyer.
We have written a free e-book called “Making Pharmacies Pay for Their Errors,” and it’ll teach you how to protect yourself or your loved ones if you are the unfortunate victim of pharmacy negligence or malpractice. We’ve taken on the big pharmacies to pay for their errors and are happy to review your case. You can call us at Kennedy Law Firm, LLP 713-425-6445 or email [email protected].
MEDICATION ERRORS: Stats & Causes
According to the National Institutes of Health, there are close to 7,000 prescription medications available and thousands of over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements, oils, etc., that consumers may take independently. It comes as no surprise that drug interaction and other medication errors lead to approximately 7,000 – 9,000 deaths each year with an estimated price tag of $40 billion. And these numbers don’t include those who suffer physically or psychologically from these types of errors. The sad thing is that in many of these cases, the problems and deaths are preventable.
There are many steps in the process – from the writing of the prescription order to monitoring the patient’s reaction to the medicine. And some steps in the process are more prone to errors than others:
Over 50% of the medication errors fall into the first category of ordering and prescribing, which falls on the physician’s shoulders or the nurse practitioner. A few reasons a physician could make an error at this point (distraction in a chaotic hospital setting is an example of the most common cause), and we won’t go into all of them here. Still, it is worth noting that nurses and pharmacists catch most of these errors. And, thank goodness for that!
What if the error occurs at the transcribing or dispensing stage of the process where the correct prescription is in the hands of the pharmacist or pharmacy assistant? As we’ve mentioned in other articles, chaos can also reign supreme at retail stores such as Walgreens, CVS, and Rite-Aid, to name a few. As always, you need to be your own advocate and pay attention to your prescription, accept the counseling offered, and double-check that the medicine you are taking makes sense for your condition.
If you have been an unlucky recipient of an error by a pharmacy when filling your prescription, it is crucial to contact an attorney. We have published a free E-Book, “Making Pharmacies Pay for Their Errors,” and it will tell you how you can protect yourself or your loved ones. We’ve taken on the big pharmacies to pay for their errors and are happy to review your case. You can call us at Kennedy Law Firm, LLP 713-425-6445 or email [email protected].