Articles Posted in Medication Errors

Unfortunately, patients are sometimes given too much of the medication they need. If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a medication overdose caused by a medical professional’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary damages. Our skilled Baltimore medical injury attorneys are well versed in handling complex cases involving overdoses and can apply our experience to your case.

An Ohio doctor has been accused of ordering excessive and potentially deadly doses of opioids to dozens of near-death patients. He is now is facing multiple counts of murder. Specifically, the doctor was charged in 25 deaths after an investigation, which lasted half a year, by the local prosecutor’s office. The fatalities uncovered an outrageous case of medical oversight and medical malpractice, shedding light on ongoing failures by tens of employees.  The deaths in the case occurred between 2015 and 2018. Most of the doctor’s victims were older and already seriously ill, but some were younger patients visiting the hospital for less severe health conditions who were ultimately given much more fentanyl than they needed. The motive for the doctor’s behavior is still unclear and he has pled not guilty. While this is an Ohio case, the sad reality is that medication errors affect Maryland patients as well.

Medication overdoses can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • Wrong prescriptions – an overdose can be the result of a doctor or nurse practitioner writing a prescription that is too high in dosage or instructs the patient to take the medication too often.
  • Pharmacy mistakes – if a pharmacy fills the prescription with the wrong dose of medication or the wrong medication altogether, a patient could inadvertently overdose.
  • Incorrect administration – if you were hospitalized or in a healthcare facility where the nurses or doctors were administering the medication to you directly then an error on their part (i.e., giving too much medication, giving the wrong medication, giving the medication too frequently, etc.) could result in an overdose.

Prescription pain medication must be prescribed and managed carefully or patients can overdose. Physicians who are negligent in prescribing or administering pain medication may be liable for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to act in the way that a reasonably prudent medical professional in the same speciality would have acted under the same or similar circumstances, thereby injuring the patient. To establish malpractice, it must be shown that a medical professional’s conduct deviated from the appropriate standard of care and that the deviation was a direct and proximate cause of the patient’s harm.
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Medication errors can lead to serious harm, even death. If you have been injured by a medication error caused by a pharmacist’s negligence, you may have legal options. We routinely handle medical malpractice cases involving medication or prescription errors. You can take comfort in knowing that our skillful Baltimore medication error attorneys can assist you in every step of the legal process, from completing the necessary paperwork to negotiations and even in the courtroom.

Dispensing errors at the pharmacy may account for approximately 21 percent of medication errors that affect patients, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. These mistakes may be more common than most patients think. The study analyzed 154,816 medication error reports between January 1, 1999 and December 21, 2001. Approximately two-thirds of the errors reported reached the patient, with relatively few causing harm. Death was reported in 19 occurrences. Mistakes related to omission and improper dose/quantity were the most commonly reported. One cause of these mistakes was a consistent performance deficit, plus failure to follow procedure and protocol.

Liability for Medication Errors

Getting the correct medication to the right patient in the correct dosage in a timely manner is vital to making sure patients do not suffer preventable medication injuries. Medication errors can take place in a variety of settings including in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and pharmacies.

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Childbirth, particularly by C-section, can be painful and uncomfortable, which is why doctors will often prescribe painkillers to treat the pain. Unfortunately, some doctors overprescribe highly addictive medication and end up injuring new mothers. If you or someone close to you was prescribed opioids after giving birth and have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to a skilled Baltimore prescription error attorney who can help. At Arfaa Law Group, we understand the stakes are high in these cases, which is why we will make every effort to get you the compensation you need to move on with your life.

A study, led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital along with the Harvard Medical School, found that about 85 percent of women who are prescribed opioids fill their scripts after leaving the hospital. On average, each new mother had about 15 pills remaining in her prescription after she took as many as needed for pain. With 1.3 million C-sections taking place a year in the United States, that’s 20 million opioids that could be misused. The research also found that the more pills the women were prescribed, the more likely they were to take them, irrespective of their pain levels. In addition, more than three-quarters of the patients who had leftover pills kept them in an unlocked cabinet as opposed to throwing them away.

Doctors owe their patients a certain duty of care, which includes the duty not to overprescribe medication. When opioids lead to addiction or overdose, it may be malpractice. In Maryland, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor causes an injury or death by failing to use the level of care that a reasonably prudent doctor in the same situation would have used. In order to establish malpractice, the plaintiff must prove the following by a preponderance of the evidence:  the doctor owed the patient a duty of care; the doctor breached this duty of care owed to the patient; and the patient sustained an injury as a direct consequence of the doctor’s breach.

Patients have a right to be treated appropriately by health care providers who are diagnosing them and prescribing medications for them. If you or your loved one has been harmed by a medical professional’s prescription or recommendation regarding a drug, you need to consult a Baltimore medication error attorney as soon as possible.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission records list a total of 520 eligible medical marijuana providers statewide. The first batch of medical marijuana is expected to hit the market before the end of the year. Although it was legalized in 2013, the rollout has been slow due to a variety of reasons. In Maryland, the law limits the use of medical marijuana to patients with certain documented health conditions, such as wasting syndrome, severe pain, glaucoma, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list.

Some Maryland physicians are worried about the possibility of medical malpractice lawsuits stemming from the use of medical marijuana. In an effort to address this, one doctor has created a legal release form for patients to sign. If patients don’t sign it, he won’t “recommend” the marijuana. The term “recommendation” is used over “prescription” because federal law still prohibits the prescription of marijuana, so many physicians use the term to shield themselves from potential liability.

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Health care providers, such as doctors and nurses, play a vital role in a patient’s treatment and recovery. When these health care providers make a medication error, it can have serious and long-term consequences for a patient’s health. If you or someone close to you was adversely affected by a medication error, you may be able to hold the at-fault party accountable and recover compensation for your harm. At Arfaa Law Group, our Baltimore prescription error attorneys can explore the facts of your case and advise you of your legal rights and options accordingly.

A recent study published by Clinical Toxicology reported that medication errors leading to adverse outcomes have doubled from the year 2000 to 2012. Unfortunately, medical professionals are responsible for 1.5 million medication errors each year in the United States, according to a report by The Institute of Medicine of the National Academics. These errors are often injurious to patients, leading to emergency situations, hospital stays, and, in some cases, even death. In fact, more people die each year from medication errors than from workplace injuries, as highlighted by the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention.

Overall, the most common types of medication mistakes involved taking or giving the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage, as well as accidentally taking or giving the medication twice. These medication errors were also very common among children. Approximately one-third of medication errors resulted in hospital admission.

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