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Pharmacy Mistakes and Accidental Death: What You Need to Know

June 26th, 2014

When a pharmacy makes a mistake in dispensing a medication, it can have devastating consequences, and the number of those mistakes that are being made is on the upswing. There are a number of reasons for this, including pharmacists being forced to adhere to unrealistic productivity goals, unskilled assistants being allowed to dispense medications under the supervision of these overworked pharmacists, an increased number of available medicines causing confusion, and even that notoriously bad handwriting that physicians have always been accused of having.

Where in the old days, a pharmacist had individual and personal relationships with patients and the time to make sure that everything was done correctly,  that is no longer the case. In a less profit-driven world a pharmacist uncertain as to what a physician wanted would have taken the time to call to confirm what the doctor had written for and the dosage, and would even have questioned the physician regarding drug interactions or allergies. Today’s pharmacies have been accused of having a fast food mentality that is causing injury, sickness, and even accidental death.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are fifty percent more people in the United States receiving treated in hospitals for medication errors than was the case several years ago. In 2008 almost two million people were sickened from drug side effects or as a result of wrong doses or types of medication being dispensed. This is up for 1.2 million in 2004. Making matters worse is the fact that these statistics only reflect those situations where a patient has been hospitalized or treated in an emergency room. There is no accounting for those that have not been caught or reported.  Another report from the Institute of Medicine indicated that errors in medication are the most common medical errors and amount to an additional $3.5 billion dollars in costs, including health care expenses, lost wages and productivity.

There are a number of different mistakes that a pharmacy can make that can result in accidental death or illness in a patient. These include putting the wrong medication into a prescription bottle that is labeled correctly, putting the wrong dosage or strength of a medication into the prescription bottle, mislabeling the prescription bottle with incorrect information or instructions, and giving the wrong patient a medication. These errors happen with frightening frequency as a result of carelessness and emphasis on quantity rather than quality, as well as the use of unskilled, poorly trained assistants rather than qualified, licensed pharmacists.

There are scores of mistakes made in pharmacies around the country every day, and an estimated 7,000 accidental deaths every year as a result of pharmacy error. Customers are urged to exercise caution before taking pills that they are given, checking to make sure that the medication is properly labeled, and asking questions if they have doubts, but the final responsibility lies with the pharmacist and pharmacy. If you or someone you love has been injured or suffered accidental death as a result of an error made by a pharmacy, contact us for immediate legal assistance.

 
     
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Gavin P. Lentz, Esq.
Bochetto & Lentz

Gavin Lentz (right) was selected as a "Super Lawyer" for 2006-2009 and 2010-2015 in New Jersey by Philadelphia Magazine. He has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine and the Legal Intelligencer in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 - 2015.

On September 16, 2002 Mr. Lentz was selected as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Intelligencer.

He has made many television appearances, including on Fox News, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Phil Donahue Show.

Mr. Lentz is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

As a former prosecutor, he knows how to aggressively go after large pharmacy chains to prove the facts necessary to protect your loved one's rights.

 
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