Articles Posted in Prescription Error

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.

The Center for Justice & Democracy, a consumer rights advocacy group out of New York Law School, has compiled a review of medical malpractice incidents and has publicly shared their findings. Entitled “Medical Malpractice: By the Numbers,” the briefing examines recent medical studies and investigations of both inpatient and outpatient groups and facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and hospice organizations.

The data brings deficiencies in medical care into the spotlight, specifically the care Americans receive within hospitals. Below is a summary of information from the report our medical malpractice attorneys think is particularly informative and worth sharing. All data sources can be found in the CJ&D briefing. We have included the page number of the report that contains the source for each statistic.

HOSPITALS:

In a collaborative report with Chicago physician Dr. Steven Fox and two pharmacy professors who specialize in drug interactions, the Chicago Tribune has pulled back the curtain on a frighteningly common occurrence. Pharmacists at both major chains and independent pharmacies are dispensing medications with well-known interactions with no warning to the patient. The study, conducted over 9 months at 255 Chicagoland, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin pharmacies, found that 52% of the time, pharmacists entirely missed the opportunity to notify the patient of interactions or to call Dr. Fox to confirm that the two conflicting drugs prescribed were intentional, which is considered a best practice.

Prescription drug interactions cause thousands of hospitalizations a year. The FDA, citing data obtained from a JAMA study, estimates that 2 million people a year experience a serious drug interaction (from both prescription and over the counter meds) and that 100,000 a year die from these combinations. The pharmacy failure rate demonstrated in our region alone should be enough of a cause for concern to major pharmacies and small pharmacies alike. If some of the 5 combinations chosen by the pharmacists that led the study were actually taken by patients, the end results could’ve been kidney failure, stroke, birth defects, multi organ failure, extremely low blood pressure, gangrene and even death. According to one of the pharmacists leading the study, the possible interactions of the drug combinations they had Dr. Fox write were ‘no-brainers’ for pharmacists.

CVS Has Highest Failure Rate of Any Chain Pharmacy

One shockingly common form of medical malpractice is pharmacy error. These errors include mistakes in filling medication prescriptions, incorrect labeling of medications, and failures to properly advise patients on how to properly use their medications. Somewhere between 30 million and 50 million prescriptions are filled incorrectly each year. Approximately 15,000 people are killed each year by prescription medication. The results of pharmacy errors can be relatively minor or absolutely devastating, depending on the details of the mistake. Recently stories have been published regarding cases of pharmacy error on both coasts.

New York Pharmacy Error Causes Teenage Girl to Lose her Hair and Have Breathing Problems

NBC New York reported recently on the story of Allyson McGuire’s thirteen-year-old daughter Cheryl. Cheryl suffered from a swollen muscle. She went to a doctor who gave her a prescription, and then to the pharmacy at a local Wal-Mart. The pharmacist told Allyson that she should give her daughter four of the pills twice a day. So, she did. Soon Cheryl’s hair began to fall out in large clumps. Then she started to have problems breathing and she had to go to the hospital. The dose the pharmacist had told Allyson to give Cheryl was substantially higher than the proper dosage. Wal-Mart admitted that the pharmacist made a mistake and says it will provide more training. Fortunately it appears Cheryl will not be permanently harmed, but in that she is fortunate.
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As readers know, a mass fungal meningitis outbreak has been sweeping across half of the country. Facilities in twenty three states received contaminated vials of a spinal steroid injection, with hundreds already having been infected, 24 killed, and thousands more waiting for confirmation that they have or have not developed meningitis as a result of their injection. It is a terribly tragic situation, and it is critical that all of us pay attention to the individual stories at the heart of the ordeal.

For example, MyDesert.com reported on one story involving a family that has been decimated as a result of this incident. According to the report, a husband a wife both recieved the contaminated injections–usually given for back pain. They did not have the shot at the same time, however. The wife had hers in August and the husband about a month later in mid-September. They obviously had no idea at the time, but those shots would change their lives and that of their family forever.

Only a few days after the husband had his shot, the wife began to feel sick and showing signs of the meningitis. Only September 22nd she suffered one the most serious consequences associated with the condition–a stroke in her brainstem. The stroke proved damaging, and the woman passed away about a week later. Experts explain that the vast majority of the deaths connected to the outbreak thus far occur in that matter, from stroke complications.

Unfortunately, those of us working on cases related to mass medical device errors or dangerous drugs appreciate that safety changes are usually only made in the aftermath of tragic problems. This is partly understandable, as in some cases it is difficult for anyone to know of a problem until some harm befalls someone. However, that does not mean that all mass problems are unavoidable or should not result accountability for those responsible.

The latest fungal meningitis outbreak–linked to tainted spinal steroid injections–offers a good illustration of these points.

As blog readers know, the outbreak has been traced to a pharmaceutical compounding company located in New England. Over 17,000 vials of contaminated product were shipped to at least 23 different states. Over 13,000 doses may have been given to patients between July and September of this year before the problem was identified and the injections were recalled. Thus far well over a hundred people have been infected, and at least twelve have died as a result.

Medical malpractice takes on many forms in hospitals and clinics across the country. On this blog we have documented many types of hospital errors, from diagnostic mistakes and lack of informed consent to surgical errors and misread x-rays. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti have decades of experience with all of these matters. Our lawyers have fought for victims of all types of medical mistakes and their families.

Of all the forms of medical malpractice, one of the most common across the country (and most deadly) is medication errors. Almost everyone understands that the various drugs given to a patient can have (and are intended to have) drastic consequences on the patient’s body, both good and bad. The power of many of these medications makes it absolutely vital that all staff members who handle the pharmaceutical products use their most extreme care, double and triple checking the details so that no problems arise.

Unfortunately, mistakes still do occur with shocking frequency-and the results are deadly.

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