Magazine article Drug Topics

Legal Panel Offers Script for Safe Drug Dispensing

Magazine article Drug Topics

Legal Panel Offers Script for Safe Drug Dispensing

Article excerpt

A physician's bad handwriting may be the butt of jokes, but a Texas jury wasn't laughing when it held both the pharmacist and physician equally responsible for the death of a 42-year-old man. In question was the prescription shown at right, in which the pharmacist took a guess at the medication and dispensed the wrong drug, and the patient subsequently died. The Rx was for Isordil 20 mg p.o. q6h, but what was dispensed was Plendil.

Medication errors was one of the topics discussed recently at a gathering of medical liability experts brought together by the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) in New York City A common theme that came up during the discussion was the concept of the health-care team. "You have the manufacturer, the physician, the managed care organization, the pharmacist, and, lest we forget, the patient. When any one of the elements in this chain is broken, lawsuits will result," said Michael D. Brophy, partner, Harvey, Pennington, Cabot, Griffith & Renneisen, Ltd.

In another example cited by participants at the meeting, the Appellate Court in Illinois, for the first time, imposed the "duty to warn" on a pharmacist, independent of a physiclan. In this case, the patient, who informed the pharmacy staff of her drug allergies to aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, had a prescription phoned in to her pharmacy by her physician for Toradol (ketorolac tromethamine). The allergy information was entered into the pharmacy's computer system, and, despite evidence showing that a contraindication alert would have flashed across the computer screen, the Rx was dispensed. The patient began to feel the onset of respiratory distress after taking the first dose and was subsequently admitted to the emergency room where she was found to be experiencing anaphylactic shock.

"The use of computers, the use of relying on our colleagues, physicians relying on pharmacists, pharmacists relying on nurses, everyone relying on one another as a safety net is very, very important," said David M. Benjamin, Ph.D., clinical pharmacologist and toxicologist, Guest Faculty, Tufts University School of Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health. "And writing and communication-and faulty communication among the health-care team-are among the major problems contributing to medication errors. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.