In our last post, we cited statistics showing that the number of medical malpractice payouts is declining nationwide and that in Pennsylvania, the number of malpractice lawsuits has declined significantly over the past decade.
Most of the data on payouts specifically refers to medical malpractice payments made on behalf of doctors. It is important to remember, however, that medical malpractice can occur during nearly any part of a patient's treatment. Sometimes the error is the fault of the doctor. Other times the hospital or pharmacy is to blame.
News of a recent lawsuit highlights the grim reality that patients can be injured or even killed by pharmacy errors. A grieving mother in Texas recently filed a lawsuit against her local pharmacy over a prescription error that allegedly caused her daughter's overdose death last year.
According to news reports, the 6-year-old girl had been diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia shortly after birth and had been given small doses of morphine for pain management since she was a year old.
The girl's mother had been filling prescriptions at the same pharmacy for nearly a decade and knew the pharmacists by name. During a visit in March of 2012, the woman filled a prescription for 15-milligram morphine tablets. She would not find out until it was too late that the pharmacy mistakenly gave her 150-milligram tablets instead.
Six days after the prescription was filled, her 6-year-old daughter died. A coroner's report confirmed that the cause of death was an accidental morphine overdose. She recently sued the pharmacy, seeking $1 million in damages. In addition to the financial compensation, she is also seeking something more personal.
The woman told reporters that "I do want an apology. I lost my child . . . I wouldn't wish (this) on anyone. I don't want anyone to ever have to go through what I've been through."
Losing a child is the ultimate nightmare scenario for nearly every parent. It is unsettling to think that a careless pharmacy error could cause so much heartache and devastation. But cases like this show that every medical professional has an important responsibility that should never be taken too lightly.
Source: KTRK-TV Houston, “Lawsuit claims wrong pharmacy prescription led to six-year-old girl's overdose death,” Jessica Willey, Aug. 21, 2013