Medication errors can be costly and are often caused by the hectic, multi-tasking work environments of many drug retailers. In one scenario, a busy pharmacist receives a telephone call from a doctor’s office with a prescription order for digoxin, a heart drug. The pharmacist counts out the correct mediation, pours it into a bottle, prepares a label and places it alongside the bottle. The phone rings again, this time with a request for warfarin, a drug used to prevent blood clots. The pharmacist prepares the correct medication but switches the labels, dispensing the wrong drug to each of the two patients.
For a distracted, overworked pharmacist, labeling mistakes can also occur while preparing medications for a single patient. For example, the patient might have two prescriptions, one for a medication to be taken twice a day, and another to be taken once a day. If the bottles are wrongly labeled, the patient may suffer an overdose of one drug and a serious risk of undertreatment by the other.
Dispensing medications in the wrong dosage, or strength, is another common prescription error. The pharmacist may receive a prescription for a drug a drug at 0.125 mg. but fill it at strength of 0.25 mg. A misplaced decimal point, substituting 5 mg. for 0.5 mg., can result in serious injury, even death. Even a familiar, oft-prescribed drug such as the anti-psychotic Haldol, can give rise to errors in calculating strength. A dosage of 5 mg of Haldol may be entirely appropriate for one patient but highly improper for an ambulatory elderly person with senile dementia. Further, the drug manufacturers themselves may fail to label products clearly, resulting in confusion as to proper dosage and use.
Wrong advice, or wrong directions, constitutes another significant source of medication error. A pharmacist may advise a patient incorrectly out of ignorance or unfamiliarity with a new type of drug. Or, the pharmacist may enter incorrect information into the pharmacy’s computer, resulting in erroneous instructions for use of the drug. Computers are immensely helpful in the pharmacy trade and, although they have become essential, their users are not infallible. Pharmacists should always make sure that the information contained in the hard copy of the prescription is identical to the data entered into the pharmacy’s computer.
Contact The Orlow Firm Today
If you or a loved one has been harmed by medication error caused by a pharmacist’s improper labeling, dosage or directions for use of a drug, contact experienced New York prescription error attorneys at The Orlow Firm for a competent legal consultation.
Call (646) 647-3398 or contact us online.