Coumadin Injuries and Death often Attributed to Pharmacist Errors

Sometimes Called “The Most Dangerous Drug in America”

Coumadin is a brand name for Warfarin, an anti-coagulant drug that is prescribed most often to treat thrombosis, or blood clots. It was initially introduced in 1948 as a pesticide against rats and mice, which may seem disconcerting to some.

Coumadin is known to be very effective and usually safe for humans, and is today the most common drug prescribed oral anticoagulant in North America. The drug is also used to treat irregular heart rhythms. Coumadin must be carefully calibrated: too much, and you can bleed uncontrollably; too little, and you can develop life-threatening clots.

Coumadin does not work well with certain other medicines and some foods can also cause problems with its effectiveness and effects. Recent studies show that common anti-depressants mixed with Coumadin may result in even greater thinning of the blood. Also at issue is that there has been an increase in the use of anti-depressants, often in elderly patients who may become dizzy or disoriented from those drugs and fall.

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South Florida Homicide Raises Negligent Security Issues

If you live in south Florida you may recall the very tragic case of a 19-year-old chef who was murdered in her apartment in the City of Oakland Park last year. On June 3rd, 2014 police say that the killer entered through a sliding-glass door and stabbed the victim several times. Then he stole her wallet.

The victim’s family is now suing the owners of the Bridgewater Place gated apartment complex where the horrible crime occurred as well as a security company for failing to provide adequate security, proper lighting, and sufficient locks. These elements are all part of an area of law known as security negligence and premises liability and Florida Statute 768 covers these issues.

The Chapter is very broad and covers the many responsibilities imparted to a property owner as well as limits to liability. For example, certain types of property must have adequate security lighting and security cameras. Another responsibility of property owners is to ensure that their employees have been screened by running a background check.

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Florida Medical Malpractice Caps Ruled Unconstitutional

Florida Medical Malpractice Caps Ruled Unconstitutional
How do you relate pain and suffering to someone? You can use hand motions like rubbing your forehead and say “Wow, I have a terrible headache!” But that only goes so far, the person you are communicating with has no idea how you feel. Maybe they have never even had a headache and haven’t a clue.

Now imagine having your esophagus perforated during a routine surgical procedure, then having everything you eat or drink leak through to your chest cavity. Then your condition worsens and you are in a coma for 6 weeks and in intensive care for an additional 3 months.

How do you relate that kind of pain and suffering to someone? It’s difficult.

Finally, imagine after all that suffering, you present your case in court. Then because of medical malpractice caps on damages you are denied the compensation you deserve. The judge or jury’s opinion on what you are entitled to becomes irrelevant. That is what happened to the victim who suffered those tragic events.

It’s just not right!

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Social Media Privacy and Florida Law

A case involving a “slip and fall” claim in Florida is challenging some widely-held expectations regarding privacy on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

A woman named Maria Nucci claimed that on February 4, 2010, she slipped and fell on a foreign substance on the floor of a Target store. In her complaint, she alleged that she suffered bodily injury, pain, lost earnings, and other damages.

This case, coming before the District Court of Appeals in the Fourth District of Florida is interesting and complex because it involves images and videos from the Facebook account of Ms. Nucci and deals with the issue of whether they are private or not. The case also deals with technical rules of procedure involving the timing of depositions and also statutes involving discovery, or the gathering of evidence.

The court cited the following opinion from a Palm Beach County judge:
Social networking sites, such as Facebook, are free websites where an individual creates a “profile” which functions as a personal web page and may include, at the user’s discretion, numerous photos and a vast array of personal information including age, employment, education, religious and political views and various recreational interests.

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Pharmacist’s Duty of Care in Florida – A Case Involving Drug Intoxication and Death

Pharmacist’s Duty of Care in Florida – A Case Involving Drug Intoxication and Death
When people go to the pharmacy to have a prescription filled, most assume that a collaboration between their doctor, the pharmacist, and the pharmacy’s computerized record system will ensure they stay in line with a plan for their best health. That is often not a realistic expectation.

A case in Florida involved two powerful medications – Alprazolam and Hydrocodone – and a patient (Mr. Steven Porter) who died as a result of combined intoxication from those drugs in March of 2011.

Instead of cooperatively working together, a lawsuit alleged that the physician involved over-prescribed the drugs and the pharmacy filled the prescriptions in a manner that exceeded what would be deemed reasonable and safe levels.

The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Mr. Porter and also stated that the pharmacy did not warm Mr. Porter about the dangers associated with taking large quantities of the drugs. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit, however a higher court, the District Court of Appeal 5th District reversed the decision.

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Liability for Damages and/or Injuries Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Person

We live in a world where commercials on TV portray a happy, friend-filled lifestyle for people who drink a particular brand of beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverage. Then at the end of the commercial, the announcer reminds us to “please drink responsibly.”

Now it would be nice if everyone listened to the announcer, but in fact that does not always happen. According to in 2013 there were 10,076 persons killed in drunk-driving crashes, which is one every 52 minutes.

Sometimes people choose to purchase alcohol on their own and drink alone. Other times people go to parties and drink with friends. Often, people go to bars or restaurants and are served drinks by a bartender or server. It’s this scenario where the responsibility and liability for the actions of impaired persons is sometimes murky.

A case in France recently gained world-wide attention when a man died after being served 56 shots of alcohol, and the bartender was found guilty of manslaughter. See Time Magazine story here: TIME

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Negligent Security and Premise Liability Law in Florida

Property and business owners in Florida would be wise to maintain their premises in good order and free from any hazards that could injure a person who visits the property.
Many people are under the impression that if someone visits their property without permission, they are therefore not liable for any injuries or damage that may happen. This is not necessarily true.

Some of the terms that may be used to define injurious incidents occurring on property are gross negligence, ordinary negligence, premise liability, intentional misconduct and duty of care. Terms used to define persons who enter or visit property include uninvited guests, undiscovered guests, invited guests, and trespassers. Finally, some of the categories defining property types are private property, community property and public property.

You can see that this is going to get complicated.

A recent case in Palm Beach County involved an injured person’s status, the type of property, and owner liability or negligence and was the subject of a decision by the 4th District Court of Appeals. The incident involved a woman who was attending a party at an apartment complex. The woman was shot in the leg by a third party, and later sued the owners of the complex for negligence, saying they did not provide adequate security.

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Sharing Prescription Drug Information Among Doctors and Hospitals

Florida Prescription Error Law: The Goal is to Limit Errors – But it’s not a Guarantee
An accountant visits his Internal Medicine physician for a routine check-up. It’s tax-time and the poor fellow is working around-the-clock. The doctor writes a prescription for an acid-blocking medication because the stressed out patient complains of acid-indigestion.

The same patient visits his cardiologist a week later and that doctor recommends medications for blood pressure and cholesterol.

Finally, a week later the high-anxiety CPA wakes up with a throbbing tooth ache, and his dentist gives him a prescription for pain pills.

What will happen if he takes all these medications together? This is where the pharmacist plays a critical role in patient care because he or she is the central point where all these drugs come together, hopefully, and possible interactions are identified.

For Medicare patients, there are now organizations called Accountable Care Organizations.

What is an accountable care organization?

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Negligent Security – ATM Safety

You’re on the way out for the evening, speaking to your friend as you drive: “I’ll just pop by the ATM and grab some cash.” You pull up to your bank and park in front, jump out of the car and leave the motor running. “Should I pull out $200 or $300?” you ask your friend. You’re in a hurry so you grab the cash and leave the receipt sticking out of the machine, dashing back to the car.

Several mistakes were made in this scenario, mistakes that may have opened the door to a serious crime. Every day there are stories like this in the news:

Bonita Springs – Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers is trying to identify the suspect who robbed a woman after she withdrew cash from a Bonita Springs ATM.
According to detectives, the victim withdrew $200 at the Suncoast School Credit Union ATM on Chamber of Commerce Drive shortly after 2:30 p.m. on January 10th.

As the victim walked back to her car, an unknown man grabbed the money from her hands and ran to a gray Toyota or Honda waiting nearby. A witness to the crime chased after the suspect, but eventually lost him after he sped off behind the shopping center.

People assume that because ATMs have security cameras and there are guards inside the bank, they are safe. This is not necessarily so.

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Pharmacists Duty of Care in Florida

The responsibilities of a pharmacist are being better defined in courts across the country, particularly in Florida. A recent court decision bolstered the fact that a pharmacist is more than an order taker, he or she has a duty to understand the patient and the drugs being prescribed by a physician.

On Feb. 6, the Florida Court of Appeal, 5th District, concluded that the pharmacy could be held liable for failing to inquire into why the patient’s doctor had been repeatedly prescribing drugs before the preceding prescriptions had been depleted.

The ruling stated, in part, “…a pharmacist’s duty to use due and proper care in filling a prescription extends beyond simply following the prescribing physician’s direction.”

Today’s pharmacies are high-volume businesses with pharmacists and pharmacy techs working to fill thousands of medication orders every day, so it’s not surprising to find that mistakes are made. The pharmacy involved in the case pertaining to this ruling happened to be an independent store, so it is possible for errors to occur in dispensaries large and small.

Some of the most common errors include:
• Dispensing the incorrect drug.
• Incorrect dose, dosage form, or quantity.
• Inappropriate, incorrect, or inadequate labeling.
• Confusing or inadequate directions for use.
• Inappropriate preparation, packaging.
• Improper storage of medication prior to dispensing.

Pharmacists are included in Florida Statute 766, which states, in part:
The term “health care providers” means physicians licensed under chapter 458, osteopathic physicians licensed under chapter 459, podiatric physicians licensed under chapter 461, optometrists licensed under chapter 463, dentists licensed under chapter 466, chiropractic physicians licensed under chapter 460, pharmacists licensed under chapter 465, or hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers licensed under chapter 395.

There are provisions for victims of pharmacy mistakes to be compensated, and this particular area of law is quite complex. If you or anyone you know believes they have been the victim of an error by a pharmacist or pharmacy it would be prudent to contact an experienced attorney who can listen to your story and investigate circumstances of your situation.

The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has earned an excellent reputation over many years for representing victims of pharmacy errors and obtaining reasonable and proper compensation for their damages, pain, and injuries. A call to their office in Fort Lauderdale at 954-356-0666 will put you in contact with Mr. Gary Lazarus or his law partner Ms. Arleen Lazarus.