It is estimated that approximately 1.3 million or more pharmacy patients experience pharmaceutical errors; out of this number nearly 100,000 actually lose their lives as a consequence. These mistakes can run as high as $72 billion annually plus raises the rate of health plans. Pharmacy errors are the main source of death in the United States. Pharmaceutical errors can be severe and obviously life altering to everyone involved.
What is considered to be a pharmacy error?
Pharmacy errors can happen when a pharmacy gives the patient the incorrect medication and or the incorrect dosage. Misprinted labels on the medication or a lack of communication can be considered a pharmacy error. Another form of pharmacy error is the side effects of drug interactions or mistakes when filling or completing the order. Giving medications to the wrong patient also happens in the pharmacy industry. This demonstrates carelessness on the practicing physician or pharmacist on duty. Often times, the pharmacy is required to fill a certain amount of medications during the hour, the day, the week or the month in order to meet certain quotas. Due to high volumes, unrealistic expectations combined with unreasonable timelines creates room for a larger margin of error.
Misinterpretation or lack of knowledge about pharmaceutical abbreviations is a frequent mistake occurring in the pharmacy. When a physician or a pharmacist fills out a prescription, generally abbreviations may be used to designate which dosage or medication is to be used by the patient. These are handwritten prescriptions with numbers and letters misread if the handwriting is illegible. This type of error can result in the patient receiving too little or too much of the prescribed medication and can end up injuring or being fatal to the receiving patient.
There are careful considerations and precautions a patient can take to avoid these types of errors. It is never 100% reliable and some errors can still occur but some general precautions can help lessen the risks of injury.
Read over the prescription that has been written, double check that the handwriting is legible on all parts of the form. It is even encouraged to have the doctor check it over after the patient has medication filled.
Before turning the medication into the pharmacy to be filled, write down the dosage and the name of the medication. When received double check that the label on the medication matches the dosage and medication that was hand written down prior.
If it is a previous medication that has been refilled, open the bottle. Double check the pills are the same and if they are not consult with the pharmacist. Generally, if there is a change in color or look of the medication is it indicated with a sticker on the side of the prescription.
Consult with the on duty pharmacist upon picking up the medication. Most pharmacists are well educated and trained to help catch errors.
It is also encouraged to go to a pharmacy that is known for quality customer service and well known to the patient. This can also help establish a good, trustworthy working relationship which can help when checking for errors.
A good rule of thumb to follow is, after taking the newly filled prescription, if any irregular side effects occur contact a health care professional as soon as possible.
When prescription drugs are manufactured extensive review and testing through the FDA (Food Drug Administration) is required. Legally, medications cannot be put on the market until the FDA has approved. This requires thorough research and examination. Although all medications go through the process of federal approval some still do more harm than intended.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are in rapid opposition against one another. The faster the drugs get out on the market the faster profit will be generated. The pharmaceutical industry is a billion dollar industry. Physicians and researchers are pressured to blast through the testing process which might not allow sufficient time to perform adequate testing on the drugs. Lack of thorough research adds to unanticipated side effects which results in no forewarning. In addition, often times misleading marketing information leads to excessive use and over prescribing.
In recent years there have been more drug lawsuits in the U.S. than before. This is primarily due to the prevalence of inadequately tested and supported new medications coming out on the market. When these poorly tested medications abound on the market patients experience increased health risks,including serious complications with no forewarning.
For example, a certain medication designed for the reduction of blood clots or strokes created a flurry of media attention due to the life threatening complication of internal bleeding risks. Research indicated that due to the lack of adequate information concerning the risk, prescribing Physicians were unable to inform their patients of the potentially fatal side effect. Multimillion dollar Lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers regarding these types of poorly researched drugs. Concerned citizens aim to disable these manufacturers with this type of litigation.
It is advised that if you or someone you know suffers from serious side effects as a result of a new medication, seek medical counsel with a doctor or a hospital immediately. Report the side effects experienced with specific explanation of the symptoms created by the medication. After seeking medical advice and assistance it is wise to advise with an attorney.
A personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights, including a compensation for the suffering and injuries caused by the medication. If a lawsuit is filed against the drug manufacturer, your lawyer would be able to represent you in the court of law. Qualified attorneys will be able to provide professional feedback, in a personalized manner, specifically tailored to your needs. If the attorney researches and finds there are other lawsuits against the same manufacturer there is possibility that your case can be added onto that lawsuit. Do not delay securing an attorney for financial reasons. In many cases the attorney only will ask for payment once your case is won.
Although there are too many unsafe drugs on the market there are many which are well researched and proven safe to use. The majority of prescription medications are manufactured in a way that ensures safety and efficacy. It is the primary role of the FDA in tandem with pharmaceutical companies to diligently ensure that all medications are safe and reliable.
If for some reason you suspect that difficulties have arisen due to taking a medication, seek counsel with a qualified physician and a personal injury lawyer.