Articles Posted in Drug and Pharmacy Errors

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The Center for Justice and Democracy (CJ&D), a consumer rights group out of New York Law School, has shared their list of 22 famous figures who have been harmed and even killed by medical malpractice.

Most of us are familiar with the high profile drug-related tragedies of Michael Jackson (2009) and Prince (2016) and even Judy Garland (1969) and Marilyn Monroe (1962). Some of us are familiar with the details surrounding the death of comedian Joan Rivers in 2014 during an endoscopy at a New York City clinic.  But it was surprising even to us to read the details of medical neglect in cases involving other beloved celebrities. As CJ&D pointed out in their report, no one is exempt from medical negligence or malpractice, not even celebrities with all the money and resources in the world at their fingertips. The report also shared several findings that now have become well known to the public. Among them, that medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in this country.

Each of the 22 cases highlighted in the report has resulted in a settlement or verdict (or is pending) and in many of them, grieving loved ones or the victims themselves have said that it’s not about money, but instead about enforcing a sense of right vs. wrong in the face of injustice.

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“We can no longer continue to treat Caucasians as the default or universal patient model.” 

     -Dr, Danielle N. Lee to Ebony Magazine, July 2014 

Higher Risk, Different Presentations, but Still Hardly Studied

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A pharmacy technician at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pittsburgh has been accused of switching pain pills out for anti-nausea and thyroid pills, affecting close to 360 patients over 4 months. Those affected included amputees, post-surgical patients, accident victims, and some suffering from terminal cancers.

In September, 16 victims filed a lawsuit against the hospital, alleging negligence in their practices, which did not include any sort of checks and balances system in monitoring, dispensing, and distributing opioids. One of the victims named in the lawsuit was suffering from painful bone cancer.

The deceit wasn’t discovered until the daughter of one of the victims realized that the pills her mother were taking were not oxycodone and alerted staff. The pharmacy tech, 47 year old Cheryl Ashcraft, admitted that she had been taking the opioids. She was sentenced to less than 1 year in jail and must serve 3 years probation.

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Medical malpractice involving prescription drugs can come in many forms. For example, the large number of pharmacy errors happening each day have received a lot of attention in the media lately. These errors, along with dosage and other administration errors in hospitals are what patients often think of when they think of pharmaceutical errors. But there are other types of drug-related malpractice. For example, issues may arise when a doctor fails to properly advise a patient regarding the risks and rewards of a medication. Doctors can also at times prescribe unnecessary medications that can have life altering effects. A new drug-use approval has made this type of error more possible when it comes to certain strong opiate drugs and children.

FDA Approves Use of Strong Opiate in Children

USA Today reports that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved OxyContin for use by kids as young as 11 years old. There are some children, particularly those suffering from certain types of severe cancer, who may benefit greatly from this approval. However, the approval also comes with extraordinary risks for some patients due to the addictive nature of the drug.
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Medical malpractice always has sad results. The injuries these patients suffer can be life altering. One of the most life-altering injuries a patient can suffer at the hand of his or her medical care provider is a loss of fertility. Many people dream their whole lives of becoming parents, and treatment errors can rob those people of that dream. A Fred Meyer pharmacy is accused of doing just that in a case of pharmaceutical error.

Fred Meyer Accused of Pharmacy Error

A woman has filed a $680,000 lawsuit against Fred Meyer claiming that one of their pharmacy employees gave her the wrong prescription drug which led to her being rushed to the emergency room and hurt her chances of ever having a baby. According to a report by The Oregonian, she presented the pharmacy with a prescription for a fertility drug called clomiphene. Instead of giving her the drug her doctor prescribed, she claims the pharmacy gave her a different drug with a similarly spelled name. This caused a serious reaction which led to her being taken to the emergency room. While she recovered from the drug reaction she had to quit fertility treatments. She says this makes it substantially less likely that she will ultimately be able to become pregnant.
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A cancer diagnosis can change your whole life. Between chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries the treatments for various cancers can be extremely grueling. Some terminal patients choose to forgo these treatments if they will not be life-saving due to the extraordinary effect they can have on a patient’s quality of life. That’s what makes the story of Dr. Farid Fata so horrifying. This doctor has pled guilty to fraud for fraudulently administering chemotherapy after leading them to believe they were sick. This case of extraordinary medical malpractice shows how much we rely on medical professionals to be competent and honest and how severe the consequences of health care provider error or intentional misconduct can be.

Treating Healthy Patients for Serious Illness

NBC News reports that Michigan doctor Farid Fata was misdiagnosing patients with cancer and then administering unnecessary treatments costing the patients both their savings and their health. The doctor told the patients that they had life threatening cancers that they did not actually have. For example, the doctor diagnosed sixty-two-year-old Robert Sobieray with a rare blood cancer and then administered both chemotherapy and radiation treatments. These treatments caused Sobieray to twitch uncontrollably and caused him to lose his teeth.
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The latest multidistrict litigation (MDL) over products liability lawsuits alleging pancreatic cancer from taking incretin mimetics makes it clear that these medications – namely Januvia, Janumet, Byetta, and VIctoza – were marketed to patients suffering from type 2 diabetes too soon. Januvia, Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved in 2006, is one of the more popular, top-selling Type 2 diabetes drugs.

What are Incretin Mimetics?

Incretin mimetics work by prompting your pancreas to release insulin when blood sugar levels are rising, and prevents it from giving out too much glucagon. This problem is… not only can they cause pancreatitis, but evidence is emerging that they could cause pancreatic cancer (as pancreatitis can be a precursor to pancreatic cancer). Some medical journals are publishing articles stating that, while these incretin mimetics are fine for the short-term use of lowering or stabilizing glucose levels, their chemical properties prohibit long-term use for the treatment of a chronic condition like type 2 diabetes.
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With the New Year came another lawsuit filed over Benicar (generic “olmersartan”). As the 2012 Mayo Clinic’s case study linking Benicar to severe sprue-like enteropathy continues to be discussed, patients are coming forward to report the negative side effects they have suffered from taking the drug. A lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California in January 2015 alleges that the makers of Benicar did not properly warn patients about the risks associated with the drug. See Verduzco v. Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., Case No. 3:15-cv-159, in US District Court, Northern District of California.

Plaintiffs are specifically concerned about the link between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy. According to the complaint, two plaintiffs, Louis Verduzco and Michael Ewald, developed personal injuries including “sprue-like enteropathy, villous atrophy, lymphocytic colitis, microscopic colitis, collagenous colitis, and/or intestinal malabsorption.” Symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy include severe, chronic diarrhea, intestinal problems and substantial weight loss. These symptoms mimic that of Celiac disease, but they are not the same thing.

For these plaintiffs, exposure to the drug resulted in chronic diarrhea, rapid weight loss, dehydration and/or acute renal failure. The plaintiffs allege they had to be hospitalized for their conditions and now require ongoing medical monitoring. They also allege that they were unaware of any adverse side effects associated with Benicar, and that the maker of the drug, Daiichi Sankyo, did not properly test it to prove that it was actually effective for treating hypertension.

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Medical malpractice caused by a doctor or nurse’s mistake accounts for many avoidable patient injuries. However, some patients are not injured so much by the individuals who administer treatments as they are injured by the treatments themselves. Sometimes the drugs that doctors prescribe turn out to be the culprit behind a patient’s suffering. In these situations the patient may not be best served by a medical malpractice claim, but instead may have a product liability claim against the drug manufacturer. Of course, if the doctor was aware of the problems with the drug and prescribed it anyway, he or she may have committed malpractice on top of the product liability issue. This is why it is so important to speak with an attorney whenever you have been injured by the medical treatment you have received. Any type of drug can turn out to be dangerous. Currently it appears that certain antibacterials may actually be harming patients.

Some Antibacterials Linked to Peripheral Neuropathy

Antibacterials called Levaquin and Avelox have been linked to peripheral neuropathy according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA started requiring labels for all “fluoroquinolone antibacterial drugs” back in 2013 to inform patients that the drugs can cause peripheral neuropathy and explain in more detail what that condition is. Peripheral neuropathy is serious nerve damage that can be permanent. In can result in pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness, or change in sensation to light touch, pain, or temperature. This class of drugs includes Levaquin and Avelox. These drugs have been approved by the FDA to treat or prevent certain types of bacterial infections.
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Medical malpractice lawsuits provide a remedy when a patient is hurt by the negligence of a hospital, doctor, or other healthcare provider. Sometimes the problem is not the person providing the care, however. Sometime the treatment itself is the problem. This can be particularly true when it comes to problems with prescription drugs. While many drugs have save countless lives, other drugs are dangerous and have caused real injuries to the patients who take them. One potentially dangerous drug is called Benicar.

FDA Issued Warning About Benicar
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