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.

Now comes the perfect storm of blood thinners, anti-depressants, and potentially disoriented elderly patients and you have a potential for disaster. Given Coumadin’s challenges – and the coordination required among doctors, nurses, pharmacists and laboratories – it is critical that communication and careful protocols be followed to insure patients are safe.

In the State of Florida, pharmacists and pharmacies are defined in Chapter 465 which can be viewed here. There are definitions, standards of practice, disciplinary actions, and rules about inspections, behavior, and other information. Chapter 766 of the Florida Statutes deals with Medical Malpractice and Related Matters, and it is this statute where pharmacists are defined as “health care providers” and are therefore included.

A newer drug, Xarelto is a brand name for Rivaroxoban and is made by Bayer. It is also acts as a blood thinner and while it is relatively a new drug, approved in 2011, there are studies indicating possible safety issues.

When there is an injury or death possibly related to any medication, it is important to understand the chain of events and who was involved. A doctor or practitioner most likely prescribed the drug, a pharmacist likely prepared the dose, and a nurse probably gave it to the patient. Each professional had a duty of care and a responsibility to fulfill his or her part of the process.

The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus maintains a dedicated part of their practice to pharmacy and pharmacist errors. As the number of drugs increases, so do the mistakes. Gary and Arleen Lazarus have been studying the statutes and case law pertaining to prescription drug use, misuse, malpractice, negligence, and unintentional errors. Their experience and concern for victims has earned them a sterling reputation as some of the best-qualified attorneys in Florida for this very specialized legal arena.

If you or anyone in your family has reason to believe they were given the wrong medication, or the incorrect dosage of any drug, they should consider calling 954-356-0006 and arranging a consultation with the Lazarus attorneys. Your case will be handled confidentially and your rights will be their top priority.