Story on Pharmaceutical Error Highlights Need for Change


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.