Medication malpractice, also known as pharmacy error, is another leading cause of injuries and death in the U.S. today. This is something that Robert Webb of Webb & D’Orazio, personal injury attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia, knows.
Statistics on pharmacy errors in the U.S. are quite chilling – more than 1.3 million people have experienced and will experience the consequences of this type of error yearly. Of that 1.3 million total, close to 100,000 die. Those numbers are staggering and certainly make one take a close second look at the prescription they just picked up.
It’s not just injuries and/or death that is the expected fall out from being given the wrong medication, it’s the cost of treating these kinds of errors that should also give patients pause for thought. Treating these kinds of errors costs taxpayers, on average, over $72 billion a year. All this because someone was given the wrong medications.
Pharmacy error isn’t just the result of the druggist giving out the wrong medications, although that is one of the possible errors. No, this error is also the result of being prescribed an incorrect dose. “There are any numbers of ways for errors like this to occur, and they include an improperly labeled drug, a dangerous combination of a variety of drugs and/or doctor or pharmacist negligence,” said Robert Webb of Webb & D’Orazio, personal injury attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia.
One of the other more common errors is usually the result of either a sketchy knowledge of abbreviations for dispensing the drugs or the abominable handwriting of the doctor. It’s not unusual for doctors to hurriedly write out a prescription that vaguely resembles chicken scratches.
Unless the pharmacist is familiar with the doctor, or takes the time to call, errors may be made in the proper dose of a required medication. For example, if the medication is to be taken two times a day (denoted by bid) and the handwriting appears to be a q (qid – 4 times a day), then the patient may wind up over dosing.
“Pharmacy errors are preventable to a certain extent by double-checking the medication with the doctor once the prescription is filled,” added Webb. Try and make sure the handwriting on the prescription is legible before taking it to a drugstore, and write down the dose and medication before having the drug filled at a pharmacy. This allows cross-checking to ensure what the doctor prescribed is what was dispensed.