HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Prescription Drug Errors

Just when you thought it was safe to start taking drugs again (I mean - we will be getting a new President soon and hopefully he or she will want to increase the funding and re-think the staffing for the FDA), we learn that it isn't just the drugs themselves that can be harmful, but the people who fill those drugs can make mistakes - quite a few of mistakes actually. From the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog's Jacob Goldstein,

A Florida roofer died a few years back from a methadone overdose, 36 hours after a pharmacy technician mistakenly typed prescription instructions that said the pills should be taken “as needed.” The instructions were supposed to say four tablets, twice daily.

The roofer’s story lands in today’s USA Today as part of a series the paper is rolling out on pharmacy errors. The pharmacy industry says it’s spent lots of money on high-tech systems to drive the rate of such errors well below 1%. But even a very low rate can mean lots of cases.

An Auburn University pharmacy study in 2003 projected the odds of getting a prescription with a serious, health-threatening error at about 1 in 1,000, USA Today reported yesterday. That could amount to 3.7 million such errors a year, based on 2006 national prescription volume, according to the paper. . . . .

Bonus Pills: Read our post on drug errors that can occur when pharmacy employees or doctors confuse one drug name with another.

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