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Articles Posted in Medication Errors

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), medical malpractice claims involving babies and children are among the most common types of lawsuits that go to trial. This is likely because negligently treated babies and children often have the worst injuries and outcomes. When a baby, child, or teenager suffers injuries because of a negligent Indiana health care provider, the medical professional may be liable for the damages that they caused. Babies and children are particularly vulnerable to medical malpractice, since these groups either are unable to communicate or have difficulty effectively communicating their symptoms and conditions.

Under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, most physicians, nurses, midwives, dentists, chiropractors, psychologists, paramedics, and other medical professionals may be liable for injuries that their negligence causes. Pediatric negligence takes many forms and can have devastating consequences. Pediatric malpractice lawsuits often arise after birth injuries, misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses, incorrect prescription orders, inaccurate laboratory results, failures to follow up, and botched surgeries.

When a medical professional fails to adhere to their standard of care and commits medical malpractice, the consequences can be dire. Pediatric malpractice injuries often cause irreversible damage because babies and young children cannot always effectively fight off infections and recover from severe trauma to their bodies. For example, recently, a mother filed a lawsuit against a medical provider after her infant died following his routine vaccinations. The infant was born prematurely but was generally in good health when he received his vaccinations. Shortly after his shots, he became feverish, and his parents gave him fever medication and put him down for a nap. A few hours later, his mother found him unresponsive in his crib. The defendants successfully argued that they were not liable for his death because medical examiners established that he died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. However, this case highlights the importance of follow-up care, especially when patients are very young.

Earlier this month, a court found that pharmacists have a duty to retain medication returned to the pharmacy by a patient if the medication was returned as a result of a potential pharmacy error. The court in the case of Burton v. Walgreen Corporation held that the pharmacy should keep the returned medication because it may be relevant to an upcoming civil lawsuit, and a failure to preserve the potential evidence may result in court sanctions for the spoliation of evidence.

The Facts Giving Rise to the Lawsuit

According to a summary of the court’s opinion, Walters was prescribed blood pressure medication by his physician. Upon taking the prescription to a local Walgreen’s pharmacy, he was provided a single vial of medication. He didn’t realize it at the time, but there were two types of pills in the vial, his prescribed blood pressure medication as well as lithium pills.

Walters took the medication as directed when he got home. As it turns out, he took five doses of the lithium pills before his wife noticed that there were two different types of pills in the vial. She took the medication back to the pharmacy to confirm that this was a mistake. The pharmacist on duty told her that the lithium pills were given to her husband in error, and he kept the medication. The pharmacist followed the company’s written protocol, quarantining the medication and then eventually destroying it.

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Whenever someone takes a prescription medication they receive from their doctor to a pharmacy, they trust that the medication provided to them is exactly what the doctor ordered. However, that is not always the case. Pharmacy errors are shockingly common across the United States and vary in severity from those that are caught before the medication is ingested to those resulting in serious injury or even death in some cases.

The possibility of a pharmacy error resulting in serious injury or death depends on several variables. Two of the most important of those are what medication is mistakenly given to the patient and what medication the patient should have been prescribed. These two variables can explain most of the injuries that occur after a pharmacist’s mistake.

Whenever a person is given a medication that they were not prescribed, there is a chance that their body will not react well to the new and unprescribed medication. For example, a doctor has not evaluated the patient’s tolerance to that drug, and it is very possible that there could be an adverse reaction to the prescribed medication.

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