Pharmaceutical errors can occur at any moment, resulting in life-changing consequences for the victim and their families. Despite the wide selection of excellent hospitals and medical care facilities in South Florida, one minor oversight or mistake can lead to tragedy, as it did for one young graduate of Miami Springs High School.
The Sun Sentinel reported on the story of Raul Otero, a young man who in 2003 survived a motorcycle accident, but was left in far worse condition after treatment at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Though the actual accident required Otero’s leg to be amputated and spleen to be removed, he was alert and prepping for rehab when he was about to receive an MRI. Due to his agitation during the MRI procedure, a doctor prescribed a drug at a high dosage of medication, which, combined with his other medications, caused his heart to beat abnormally. Otero’s heart stopped, he was revived and he ultimately went into a coma. As a direct result, he was rendered a quadrapalegic and unable to speak except for responding to familiar voices through laughter (Watch video for this story on the Sun Sentinel story link).
As with many other medication errors the resulting trauma didn’t just affect Otero. His mother was forced to gave up her full-time job to be his caretaker and Otero’s tragic ordeal put a toll on his parents’ marriage.
Residents of South Florida should be on alert for potentially contaminated beef, according to a recent product recall from a Miami-based meat company.
The Sun Sentinel reported that Northwestern Meat, Inc. is recalling over 6,000 pounds of its Honduran beef which may have been contaminated from animal drugs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced the recall following a random sampling of the beef in mid-July. The USDA warns that the beef may contain lvermectin, which is an anti-parasitic given to animals. The recall involves C&D brand boneless beef cartons with the code LOT. N60 146-11 A or LOT. N60 146-11 B, with a processing date of 26.05.11. So far, the USDA has not received any illness reports. Once discovered, cases of the meet were not allowed in the US, although Honduran officials warned that the meat had made it through before the random sampling.
Globalization has allowed companies to use cost-effective means to produce their goods, while also providing Americans with foreign goods that would otherwise not be readily available. However, product recalls are common these days since companies rely so heavily on producing and importing their products from other parts of the world where certain standards for consumer goods may not apply as they do in the US. Furthermore, outsourcing will naturally lead to less control over one’s own product.
If you have purchased Northwestern’s meat and it contains the relevant product codes, be sure to dispose of it immediately. If you have ingested any of the meat, seek medical attention. For more information, call the USDA Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-674-6854.
The pharmaceutical industry produces billions in revenue each year. Residents of South Florida spend top dollar on the best-named brands for their ailments. A recent article reported a major development in the next two years that could save you money, but could end up costing you your health.
The Los Angeles Times reported that 6 of the 10 top prescription drugs will be losing their patents. Among those drugs are Lipitor, Plavix and Enbrel. With the end of their patents approaching, drug companies will pounce on the opportunity to make the drugs.
While more generics will mean more savings, it may also mean more risk for injury from a medication accident. This means that along with the dangers of pharmaceutical error and medical negligence, consumers could potentially be injured from a sub-standard, defective product. While the story noted that the FDA maintains that generic drugs have the same quality, it also pointed out that 81 people in the U.S. and Germany died from taking a generic blood thinner made by Baxter Healthcare. Furthermore, a report from John Hopkins University researchers stated that there is a 10% chance that switching to an anti-epilepsy generic drug would change the concentration that the medication reaches once it is in the body.
It is imperative that developments in medicine lead to better medicine at a more affordable price without leading to injury or illness. Drug companies must be held accountable for making quality products which are safe for consumers.
Last week, an arbitrator’s ruling in favor of an employee for a cruise ship accident showed that cruise lines, many of which are based out of South Florida, may want to rethink their protocol when dealing with injured crew members.
Carnival Cruise Lines, headquartered in Miami, was ordered to pay a crew member $800,000 for an injury he suffered in 2008 while working on Carnival’s Imagination. According to the article in All Voices, Marcin Sokolowski was lifting heavy bins as part of his duties as a maitre’d. He was not given a dolly or any other back support and when he felt a pop in his back while lifting bins in June 2008, he reported his injury to the ship’s doctor. The doctor only gave him pain medication and injections.
Sokolowski was transferred to another Carnival cruise ship headed back to San Diego. That ship’s doctor administered spinal adjustments and an injection. Eventually, a doctor in Cabo San Lucas notified him that he needed surgery. However, the cruise ship personnel would not allow him to have the emergency surgery in Cabo San Lucas, which caused more delay in treatment. Sokolowski later received surgery, but due to the delay, he suffered nerve damage in his right leg and was declared permanently disabled.
This ruling is very significant for the cruise industry and South Florida cruise ship attorneys. Cruise lines must ensure that crew members are given the proper tools and safety equipment while working aboard the ship. Furthermore, cruise line medical personnel are under a duty to properly diagnose and instruct patients. Though this incident involved an employee, the delays in surgery and proper treatment could have easily occurred to an injured passenger.
If you have been the victim of a cruise ship accident, consult our office to speak with a Cruise Ship Attorney today.
According to the Reuters article, Liam Donaldson of the World Health Organization cited the following findings:
1- Individuals are more at risk from medical error than from flying.
2- The chances of medical error are “1 in 10” and the possibility of death is “1 in 300”.
3- 1.7 million infections in the U.S. are acquired in hospitals, leading to 100,000 deaths.
4- “Medication errors are common”.
5- The medical industry is in dire need of advanced technology and an increase in the amount of personnel to operate it.
Due to these alarming statistics, Mr. Donaldson believes that the state of medical care can not remain as it is and is in need of serious improvement. In an effort to minimize the quantity of medical errors and malpractice the World Health Organization has created a surgical safety checklist which could prevent 500,000 errors if used by hospitals. Our hope is that more hospitals in South Florida utilize this checklist and other protocols to prevent pharmaceutical errors and medical negligence thereby ensuring every patient’s safety.
South Florida is home to some of the best health care facilities in the nation. Patients, both young and old, rely on the expertise of medical professionals and pharmaceutical experts to ensure that they get the best treatment without having to worry about suffering from a pharmaceutical error. One mistake by a nurse in Seattle led not only to the death of an 8-month-old girl, but also to the nurse’s suicide and pointed out the continued dangers of pharmaceutical negligence.
MSNBC reported on the story in late June, in which a nurse gave a baby 1.4 grams of calcium chloride instead of 140 milligrams. The article also pointed out a few startling statistics about pharmaceutical errors. Notably, 1 in 7 Medicare patients suffer serious harm because of medical errors and hospital infections each year, and 180,000 patients die. Furthermore, a Washington University researcher found that 92% of the doctors surveyed said that they’d experienced a near miss, a minor error or a serious error, while 57% confessed to a serious mistake. The nurse was eventually let go and the hospital noted that it followed a “Just Culture” model which “use[s] errors to identify and correct systemic problems, rather than focusing on penalizing individuals.”
So is Just Culture the best method for pharmaceutical error prevention? Studies have shown that other tactics like e-prescriptions give the same rate of error as handwritten prescriptions. Firing employees who commit errors may resolve short-term problems, but as the statistics show, long-term issues still persist and factors such as similar names of prescriptions will ultimately increase the likelihood of error. Other methods must be implemented to reduce the risk of error in hospitals and pharmacies.
The safety of our community is important to us. Medical professionals and pharmacies in South Florida must be held accountable to improve protocol and do everything they can to prevent pharmaceutical negligence. Contact our office and consult with a Florida pharmaceutical negligence attorney if you’ve been injured from a pharmaceutical error.
During the summer, roller coasters all over the country will have plenty of traffic as children and parents flock to amusement and theme parks. With so many selections such as Disneyworld and Busch Gardens, visitors from around the world will head to Central and South Florida for its thrill rides. However, an Army hero’s fatal roller coaster accident has many critics worried about the safety of roller coasters.
As noted by ABC in their story, proprietors of roller coasters and theme parks defend their rides and maintain that the odds of someone getting injured in a roller coaster accident are 1 in 1 million. However, many experts warn that the twists and turns of these thrill rides can cause serious injury, including severe whiplash and even death. Critics of these high speed thrill rides warn that the risks may outweigh the benefits, due to the lack of federal regulation over these coasters to apply appropriate safety standards.
We encourage families to enjoy the many theme parks and amusement rides throughout Florida, but we strongly urge that everyone be aware of the risks involved and to follow all safety instructions before going on a roller coaster. With access to the Internet it is easier than ever for an individual to locate thrill ride companies and amusement park’s safety information posted on their websites, so doing your research could also help avoid injury.
A recent warning from the FDA has highlighted a common mistake made by pharmacists: confusion of drug names.
Mixing up prescriptions due to the similarity of drug names is a common pharmaceutical error, and it’s something that Floridians should be aware of when heading to their local drug store. According to MedPage Today, the FDA issued a warning in June due to the 226 reports it received from confusing Risperidone (Risperdal), which is an antipsychotic, with Ropinirole (Requip), which treats Parkinson’s disease and Restless Legs Syndrome. These errors resulted in five individuals being hospitalized.
In its report, the FDA noted that some of the factors causing confusion were similar packaging, illegible handwriting of the prescription, and overlapping product characteristics, such as strength and dosage. It is important to understand that any pharmaceutical prescription error has the potential to cause serious illness and/ or death.
So the next time that you pick up your prescription, remember to carefully read the label carefully and inspect the actual medication to determine that the medication is actually used to treat your condition, especially with generics. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask your physician and your pharmacist about the uses of your medication. By taking a few precautions, you can reduce the risk of being a victim of pharmaceutical negligence.
Late last month, a cruise ship passenger aboard a vessel from Norwegian Cruise Line, based out of Miami, Florida, was injured and rescued after going overboard.
USA Today reported that the passenger went overboard at about 8 p.m. when the ship was making its way down the Mississippi River to its Caribbean voyage. Representatives from NCL stated that the passenger was rescued and given medical treatment, although NCL failed to identify how the passenger went overboard or the extent of his injuries.
Cruise ship accidents can occur at any time. Statistics from Cruise Junkie show that last year, a total of 19 people went overboard on cruise ships. Accidents, of course, are not just limited to falling overboard. Food poisoning, injuries from onboard activities and failure of the cruise line to follow health or safety standards can also cause serious injury.
These days, everything has gone electronic: banking, shopping, and even important documents are being transmitted through the internet. A recent study, however, of e-prescriptions (medical prescriptions sent electronically) shows that technology may not be the answer for preventing pharmaceutical errors in Florida.
Medical News Today reported on a study from the Journal of American Medical Information Association , in which Karen Nanji, M.D. evaluated over 3,800 e-prescriptions from pharmacy chains in Florida, Arizona and Massachusetts. The study found that the 11.7 percent of the prescriptions had mistakes, which researchers note is no better than the rate of error in handwritten prescriptions. The numbers show that a majority of the errors – 60.7 percent – were omissions of frequency, dosage and duration. Notably, there were about 190,000 physicians last year who were e-prescribing.
The results of this study are quite disappointing, considering that doctors have received Medicare bonuses for e-prescribing and that e-prescribing was supposed to save money and prevent pharmaceutical errors. Technology alone cannot ensure the health and safety of our loved ones. Other measures need to be taken to prevent these errors.
Pharmaceutical errors can lead to dangerous, even fatal, results. If you or someone you know has been injured due to a prescription error, consult with an attorney.
Gary T. Lazarus was born in Queens, New York, on August 26, 1965. He received his Bachelor of Science from St. John's University in 1987 and received his Juris Doctorate from Nova Law School in 1990. In 1992, Gary founded this Personal Injury Firm, dedicated to the representation of persons injured due to the negligence of another.