Pharmacists and physicians typically work together to properly prescribe hundreds of thousands of medicines each day. These medications may come in the form of pills, topical applications or injectables to name a few.
At least 1.5 million people per year are harmed by medications
Medication And Prescription Errors Are Preventable
With all of these prescriptions there are policies and procedures recognized around the United States that if used can substantially curtail and eliminate malpractice in the prescribing of these substances.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes a medication error as "any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer. . ."
Shockingly, despite the availability of proper policies and procedures to substantially eliminate this problem, conservatively, at least 1.5 million people per year are harmed by medications with many deaths also occurring from medication errors.
Look Alike And Sound Alike Medications Are Commonly Confused For Each Other
One common problem involves pharmacists dispensing drugs with “Look Alike and Sound Alike” names. For instance many patients in need of Durezol, used as a drop to treat eye pain caused by surgery have instead mistakenly received Durasal.
Durasal is a topical preparation for treatment of common and plantar warts. Durasal is never to come into contact with membranes of the eye. Mistaken application of these drugs can result in permanent and severe injury to the eye.
A similar problem has occurred with Lanoxin and Levoxine. Lanoxin is used to treat congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation while Levoxine is used to treat an underactive thyroid. Again, confusing these drugs can result in tragedy.
Another example involves how drugs are packaged. If the packaging is similar mistakes can be made. A fairly common example involves heparin and insulin. Similar-looking vials of heparin and insulin are often next to each other on a counter or a drug cart, in a pharmacy.
Since the vials look so much alike occasionally physicians and nurses give insulin to a patient in need of heparin and vice versa. There are many well documented cases of patients paying for this mistake with their lives.
Simple Communication Errors Between Physicians And Pharmacists Can Be Leathal
Other errors occur because the wrong medication is dispensed or the incorrect dosage information is provided to the patient by the physician or pharmacist. This is usually because of some miscommunication between the pharmacist and the physician.
This miscommunication can also apply to the failure to account for and guard against harmful drug interactions and drug allergies and side effects. This miscommunication can occur when a physician or pharmacist fails to take a detailed patient history or fails to consult a patient’s history before prescribing a drug.
The DiCello Law Firm Has Helped Many Victims Of Medication Errors
Though this all seems very complicated, there are many policies and procedures in place at hospitals, doctors’ offices and pharmacies that can substantially eliminate if not absolutely eliminate these costly mistakes.
Sadly, most medication errors could easily be prevented if medical and pharmacy staff members pay attention to proper procedures and precautions. If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of malpractice due to the mistake of a pharmacist, doctor, nurse or other health care provider call the lawyers at The DiCello Law Firm.