Articles Posted in Drug and Pharmacy Errors

Report Shows PICU Nurse Distractions from Work Phones Could Be Cause of Medication Errors

A late 2019 research study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that not only are pediatric nurses multitasking and overworked in intensive care units (ICU), they are receiving too many distracting calls on their work phones that may lead to mistakes in administering medications to young patients.

An overview of the report titled Association Between Mobile Telephone Interruptions and Medication Administration Errors in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit includes:

Legalized Marijuana

Patient Harm at the Hands of Impaired Clinicians

Many reports on the issue of drug and alcohol use among those in the medical profession have found that substance abuse is widespread. However, rigorous standards are in place to keep patients safe from negligently “high” doctors. But recently adding to the issue is the possible impact the legalization of sales and recreational use of marijuana in Illinois may have on a physician’s performance. Undoubtedly, some doctors and health care professionals are likely to take a personal interest in the consumption of legal pot, especially as environmental triggers and workplace stressors commonly felt by overworked medical professionals are known to drive a person toward chemical or substance dependencies.

We hope that these practitioners appreciate the boundaries related to performing the duty of care owed to their patients and that they understand some users may be incapable of fulfilling that duty and as a result – cause harm to their patients.

Drugs and Money

New Report Uncovers Trend in Profitable Prescription Drug Practices

A new data report compiled by independent newsroom ProPublica has concluded that doctors who receive money from pharmaceutical companies are more inclined to prescribe that specific drug “more heavily than doctors without such financial ties.” The researchers determined that the trend was noted for 50 popular and expensive brand-name drugs covered by Medicare Part D, including medicines that treat diabetes, glaucoma, asthma, constipation, cholesterol and other common ailments. A ProPublica article released on December 20 stated that “the financial interactions include payments for delivering promotional talks, consulting and receiving sponsored meals and travel.”

A Recap of ProPublica’s Findings

Injured Old Man

20 Years Later: Healthcare is Failing, and Medical Errors are Rising

The highly received report To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System is now 20 years old, and unfortunately, not enough lessons have been learned to prevent known medical mistakes. Experts recently spoke with HealthLeaders reporters and shared concerns that patient safety is still largely in question as patient deaths due to medical errors now round out around 444,000 lives each year, an increase from 98,000 at the time the 1999 report was made. By those numbers, it remains obvious that advancements to keep patients safe from preventable injuries is still needed.

On November 27, 2019, the experts interviewed by HealthLeaders raised these stifling conclusions related to medical error trends and the rise in deaths resulting from a lack of patient safety in the American healthcare system.

medical errors

13 Ways to Protect Yourself from Medical Errors 

A newly released study highlighted the striking rise in preventable medical errors of more than 300,000 adult patients was published on July 17, 2019 in the medical journal, The BMJ. The data collected represented 1 in 10 patients harmed in the course of their medical care, half of which were preventable.

The study found:

medical malpractice

6 Wrongful Death Lawsuits Settled for Ohio Families Impacted in Deadly Pain Medication Scandal

Several news outlets from Columbus, including WBNS-10TV, are reporting two additional families representing Ohio patients who died from fentanyl overdoses at Mount Carmel West have reached separate wrongful death settlement agreements totaling $700,000.

  • Court records reveal one of the settlements involves patient Peggy Francies who died in October of 2017. Her family will receive $500,000 in compensation.

pain medication overdose

Health System, Intensive Care Doctor, Pharmacist, and Nurse All Sued for Giving Excessive Doses of Powerful Pain Medicine

An Ohio hospital system has been at the center of intense scrutiny after one of its former intensive care doctors is said to have ordered “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of “comfort” pain medicine for at least 27 near-death patients over the course of several years. One family is suing the health system as well as the doctor, pharmacist, and nurse responsible for allegedly giving an improper dose of fentanyl to their 79-year-old family member even though they had asked that lifesaving measures be stopped. Fentanyl, also known as Actiq, Duragesic or Sublimaze, is an especially potent painkiller used to treat extreme pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strains of fentanyl can be up to 50 times more powerful than morphine.

Although the hospital, part of the larger Mount Carmel Health System, has since acknowledged the doses in many similar patient cases were larger than needed. A legal team will now investigate as to whether the acts were intentional, and if the lethal drugs were possibly used improperly to accelerate the patients’ deaths.

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.

“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

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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