pharmacy errors

The Rate of Prescription Errors is High and Rising

Every job has a potential for making errors. Getting the wrong entrée at a restaurant happens every now and then, and I took home another person’s dry cleaning last month when the clerk handed me the wrong items. Filling prescriptions, one would think, has a very low rate for errors. That’s not entirely accurate.

Most patients who deal with buying prescriptions on a regular basis probably think that with advances in computer technology and the high level of training for pharmacists and pharmacy techs, they don’t even need to check what’s in the little brown bottles. But studies show it’s smart to check, and double-check.

Big Mistakes

One study revealed a dispensing error rate “of more than one in five prescriptions” (Journal of the American Pharmacists Association). Last year, more than 4 billion prescriptions were filled in the U.S. A 20 percent error rate would represent 800 million mistakes. Though most are relatively minor, some have led to disability and even death.

Another study concluded that error rates are actually getting higher, especially in large medical centers and hospitals. Errors included mistakes on labels and duplicate orders, but one of the most common errors was incorrect dosage for warfarin, also known as brand name Coumadin, which is a blood-thinning medication. When warfarin is administered in too-high dosages, very serious internal bleeding may occur.

pharmacy errorsFrom the results the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association study: Of 100 prescriptions dispensed, 22 had one or more deviation from the physician’s written order, for a 22% dispensing error rate. Three of the errors were judged to be potentially harmful when dispensed to a typical patient requiring these therapies. A total of 43 shoppers (43%) received verbal counseling, including 16 cases in which the shopper prompted counseling. All shoppers received written information with their prescription, covering an average of 90% of the required topics.

The results also included this very disturbing conclusion: Some 68% of the warfarin shoppers purchased aspirin without the pharmacist verbally warning about taking the drugs simultaneously. Conclusion: The dispensing error rate of more than one in five prescriptions is similar to the rate found in a similar study conducted 14 years ago, but counseling frequency has decreased significantly during the period.

Drive-Thru Counseling?

Today’s pharmacies have drive-thru windows, which obviously makes counseling with a pharmacist very impractical. Patients should understand that taking just a few minutes to discuss side-effects and interactions may prevent a harmful side-effect from happening. Patients should also carefully examine their prescriptions to make sure they received the right medication and the correct dose.

Seek the Best Help

The Law Office of Lazarus and Lazarus has represented victims of pharmacy errors for over 20 years, and we are eminently qualified to handle any situation related to injuries, sickness, or death related to medication mistakes. A call to 954-356-0006 will put you in touch with Gary and Arleen Lazarus, personal injury attorneys who will carefully listen to your story and then recommend the best course of action for your individual situation.

Charges Filed in 2009 Fort Lauderdale Hyperbaric Chamber Fire Deaths

62740_industrial_extension_cord%20sxchu.jpgAccording to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, a head safety technician and a physician were recently charged in connection with the 2009 hyperbaric chamber deaths of a woman and her grandson. 62-year-old Vicenza Pesce and 4-year-old Francesco Martinisi died after a spark ignited in a hyperbaric chamber at the Ocean Hyperbaric Neurologic Center in Fort Lauderdale. The two Italian citizens were in the pressurized oxygen chamber for about 20 minutes before it ignited and went up in flames. After the fire began, both Pesce and Martinisi were reportedly trapped in the chamber for about five minutes. According to law enforcement, the grandmother and grandson each suffered burns on approximately 90 percent of their bodies.

Although both deaths were ruled accidental, 51-year-old Lance Bark was recently arrested by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office on manslaughter charges. Aggravated manslaughter charges are now pending against 81-year-old George Daviglus, the doctor who runs the facility. The company has since been renamed and both the doctor and the chief safety technician continue to work at the Fort Lauderdale facility.

The fire was purportedly caused by static electricity and exacerbated by poor grounding of the chamber. According to law enforcement officials, several procedural and equipment failures existed at the facility when the accident occurred. An investigation revealed that a number of the facility’s hyperbaric chambers had exposed or burnt wires, broken indicator lights, and taped extension cords placed near oxygen lines. The chamber in which the fire started was also purportedly rewired for 220 volts of electricity in violation of design specifications. Additionally, six of the 12 chambers located at the facility are more than 40 years old. Despite such issues, investigators reportedly found no maintenance or inspection logs at the facility.

In an 11-page arrest report, Daviglus and Bark are accused of failing to require the grandmother and her grandson to wear grounding bracelets designed to prevent static electric shock. The victims were also not dressed in appropriate non-flammable clothing and investigators found flammable items such as baby wipes inside of the chamber. In addition, there was allegedly no operator monitoring the chamber when the fire broke out and the intercom system was not functioning. As a result, Pesce reportedly had difficulty notifying anyone of the flames. The facility is also accused of failing to follow emergency procedures and prolonging the victims’ exposure to the fire.

Detective Edwin Tapanes of the Florida Fire Marshal’s Office stated the fire resulted from gross negligence. An independent investigation by forensic engineers retained by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office agreed. The investigation also found that Daviglus and Bark failed to follow regulations promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association
Although investigators stated this case was caused by gross negligence on the part of the hyperbaric chamber facility, the manufacturer of a dangerous or defective product may also be held strictly liable in the State of Florida. If the product was defective, failed to function as intended, or did not function according to recognized safety standards, the manufacturer may be held liable regardless of whether any negligence occurred. If you were injured as a result of a defective or poorly designed product, contact an experienced Florida products liability attorney.
Read more “Charges Filed in 2009 Fort Lauderdale Hyperbaric Chamber Fire Deaths”

Marion County Explosion Kills One Woman, Injures Another

746971_broken%20sxchu.jpgOn Friday morning, a hyperbaric chamber explosion killed a veterinary employee and a horse in Marion County, Florida. 28-year-old Erica Marshall died at the KESMARC Florida Equine Rehab Center in Oclala after a horse being treated in the chamber purportedly began to kick and the metal on its horseshoe ignited a spark. Fellow employee Sorcha Moneley, 33, was also injured in the blast. She was taken to a local hospital in critical condition.

Hyperbaric chambers are used to create environments that contain higher than normal levels of oxygen. Use of the chambers is highly regulated and requires extensive safety training. In humans, the chambers are generally used to treat divers for sickness resulting from pressure changes, more commonly known as “the bends.” At KESMARC, the chamber was used to treat a variety of equine illnesses and injuries.

Marshall worked at the facility for approximately two years and was reportedly well trained on the use of hyperbaric chambers. Although horses inside the chamber are normally sedated, the one in the chamber at the time of the blast was not. Marshall was monitoring the horse using a closed circuit video system and had already begun to shut the chamber down when it exploded. Hyperbaric chambers must shut down in a series of steps to protect patients, however. It was during the shutdown phase when the horse inside allegedly kicked away the chamber’s protective coating. His next kick struck the chamber’s metal walls and ignited an explosion which purportedly rattled windows for miles.

Although seriously injured in the explosion, Moneley reportedly told emergency responders what caused the explosion. The horse killed was undergoing treatment for a neurological disease. An additional 30 horses were later removed from the partially collapsed facility unharmed. Questions are being asked regarding why the horse was not sedated and why he was allowed to enter the chamber wearing horseshoes. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration is currently investigating the explosion.

In Florida, the manufacturer of a product may be held strictly liable if a product failed to function as intended or according to safety standards and the failure resulted in injury or death. If a product is defective, a manufacturer may be held liable regardless of whether any negligence occurred. Manufacturing defects, insufficient operating instructions, failure to warn consumers, and design defects can all lead to a finding of strict liability. If you were injured as a result of a defective or poorly designed product, it is highly recommended you contact an experienced products liability lawyer.
Read more “Marion County Explosion Kills One Woman, Injures Another”

Lessons to Learn from Recall of Florida-grown Tomatoes

Florida is home to a wide variety of fresh produce and meats. With its incredible climate and vast land, South Floridians can find many locally-grown products at their neighborhood grocery store. However, products from our state – like any other – are susceptible to recalls for food-borne bacteria.

The Sun Sentinel recently reported that a product recall on grape tomatoes, which may contain salmonella, grown by Florida-based Six L’s Packing has expanded to include vegetable platters sold by Mann Packing of Salinas, California. According to the story, the platters contain sell-by dates of May 9 and 16, and while a spokeswoman for Mann Packing said that none of the platters were sold at retail stores in Florida, neither the amount of platters sold in Florida nor their buyers could be identified. In a press release earlier this month, the FDA provided a detailed list of retailers and their products which carry the tomatoes. Watch the story on the initial recall, reported by KRQE News 13:



Exposure to contaminated foods can lead to serious illness and even death. Here are just a few tips recommended by on avoiding exposure to salmonella from produce:

• Do not purchase bruised/damaged produce • Throw away rotten produce • Cut away bruised/damaged parts of produce
Consumers can’t be too careful when it comes to what they eat. According to Medline Plus, 76 million people in the US get sick from contaminated food, with symptoms ranging from upset stomach to dehydration.

If you have been exposed to salmonella or other contaminations, seek medical assistance immediately. Contact the FDA to notify them of the potentially harmful product so that they may further investigate the matter. If you believe that you have a claim, consult with an attorney.

Man Sues Stun-Gun Company and Wins $2.85M

Florida residents who suffer injuries as a result of using defective or harmful products can hire a personal injury lawyer to fight for their rights. A manufacturer can often be held liable for injuries caused and a court will order a settlement to cover the cost of medical bills and other damages. One recent California case is a prime example of how product liability and personal injury cases get settled in the United States:

A California man who suffered brain damage after being stunned by a Taser gun was recently awarded $2.85 million for his injuries in a product liability lawsuit. The suit was filed after Steven Butler, 49, was shocked by the device nearly four years ago by a Watsonville, CA police officer. Butler was drunk at the time and off his psychiatric medication when officers used a Taser X-26 to subdue him after he wouldn’t get off a bus.

Butler went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing. It took emergency medical personnel 18 minutes to revive him, and he subsequently suffered anoxic brain injury and debilitating brain damage. He currently needs round-the-clock care and can’t be left alone, according to his attorneys. He has no short-term memory or mobility, and his motor skills have decreased drastically as well.

Since the injury, Butler’s brother David has been caring for him. Part of the award in the settlement will be put towards a trust for the family, who is enduring more than $4,700 a month in medical and caretaking bills. Although the company didn’t admit liability, the case marks the first time Taser International has ever settled a product liability case, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Protect Your Children Against Toy Choking Hazards

When it comes to children’s toys, choking hazards are very real and parents in Florida must exercise caution when allowing their children to play with toys that are poorly made and/or contain small parts. Although most toys are manufactured with child safety in mind, there are still countless products on the market today that present choking hazards to small children.

Steps to Safeguard Your Children
Parents must be proactive when it comes to safeguarding children against toys that may present choking hazards. One easy way to check for defective or dangerous products is to do an online search. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission publishes an updated online database of recalled toys that is quite comprehensive. is a federally funded site that also contains a vast amount of information on toy recalls and safety concerns.

When you’re shopping for toys, be sure to examine each product and its packaging before you buy. Check for:
– Recommended age for use (is the toy age appropriate for your child?)
– Warning labels regarding small parts or choking hazards – Harmful ingredients (lead paint, BPA, etc.)
– Poor craftsmanship (i.e. the paint is chipped, parts are missing, etc.)

As a parent, these precautions can help save your child’s life. In case of an accident or injury, however, it is crucial that you contact a qualified lawyer to help you defend your rights. Large companies can often intimidate people and be evasive when it comes to taking responsibility for their actions. A lawyer can help you seek compensation for injuries or wrongful death caused by a defective toy.

Mouthwashes with Alcohol Could Increase Risk of Cancer

A University of MelbourneStudy found that use of mouthwash containing alcohol could increase the risk of oral cancer. Professor Michael McCullough and co-author Dr. Camile Farah concluded that there is now sufficient evidence to prove that ethanol in mouthwash allows cancer-causing substances to permeate the lining of the mouth.

The Study involved 3,210 people, which found that daily mouthwash use was a significant risk factor for head and neck cancer-whether or not they used alcohol or tobacco. The effects of mouthwash were worst in smokers, who saw a 900% increased risk of oral cancer. Those who consumed alcohol saw a 500% increase.

On cue, a spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson Ltd. UK, the manufacturer of the popular “Listerine” brand stated: “There is no scientific evidence to support an association between the use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes, such as Listerine, and an increased risk of oral cancer.” As always, our position is to avoid panic, but err on the side of caution and seek out an alcohol free mouthwash at a health food store.

Although there is no way to definitively confirm the results of this new study, one thing is certain. Historically, the larger multi-national corporations that operate throughout the globe have a history of denial and cover-up when the safety of their products has been questioned. Their enormous wealth allows them to finance opposing scientific studies, some of which the corporations author themselves. They will then pay for the signature of a so-called expert, who decides to compromise their principles to chase the almighty dollar, or at least, the currency of their liking.

Erring on the side of caution can never be opposed, even by the most skeptical of critics.