The Colorado School of Public Health has created an online program called "The Opioid Crisis: Guidelines and Tools for Improving Chronic Pain Management." Intended to combat the problem of medication errors related to overdoses and unintentional deaths from prescribed opioids, the program is being endorsed by the Colorado Medical Society, or COPIC, a provider of medical malpractice insurance in Colorado. Statistics from the Robert Johnson Foundation indicate that over 80 people die each day from unintended opioid medication overdoses. The program's online training course not only offers tools that target the epidemic of opioid abuse, but it also provides guidelines for assessing possible addiction risks in patients who have pain that is chronic but not cancer-related and provides access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or PDMP. There is also a calculator that estimates the dose of opioids taken by a patient.
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire face lawsuits because a radiologist stole syringes filled with fentanyl and injected himself with the painkiller. It is also alleged that he refilled the used syringes with saline and that they were used to inject patients. The radiologist suffered from hepatitis and now at least 32 patients have been diagnosed with his strain of the virus. Medication errors like this one may be of interest to Colorado residents because AART is a national organization and this radiologist could've been hired by a Colorado hospital. At least two patients are including ARRT in their lawsuits, because they claim the organization failed to investigate a complaint against the radiologist in Arizona. They continued to credential him, which allowed him to be hired by Exeter. The Arizona hospital fired him after he was discovered unconscious in the hospital locker room with needles and syringes in his possession.
Denver readers may be interested in a study that found more than 3,000 incidents of errors in Electronic Health Records (EHR). The study shows an increase of double the number of health safety issues in a one year period. Sixteen cases in question were noted as causing "some kind" of harm. However, only one medication error was considered to have caused significant harm.
An abstract of a study, recently presented at the American Society of Health Systems-Pharmacists meeting, indicates that having a pharmacy team in the emergency department of a hospital can significantly cut down on the number of medical errors caused by incorrect medications or dosages. Among the 185 patients studied prior to the arrival of a pharmacy team in the emergency department, there were 1,750 discrepancies. The most common disparity, occurring in 55 percent of cases, was failures in collecting information on the date and time of the last dosage. A smaller percentage included incorrect orders and omissions. After a pharmacy team was placed in the emergency room, a total of 25 errors occurred. This is a significant drop when compared to the control group, which had 425 errors.
The recent nationwide outbreak of meningitis was traced to a compounding pharmacy that distributed tainted injections, but further evidence shows that government regulators may also have been lax in their oversight of the pharmacy. In fact, Colorado regulators were the first to raise the alarm about these medication errors months before about unsafe injections that could lead to illness or death of victims.Colorado pharmacy regulators filed a complaint about the company in July 2012, alleging that the pharmacy had violated terms of its license. Specifically, Colorado officials stated that the pharmacy was not using patient-specific prescriptions to distribute medications to hospitals in our state.
A former employee of a hospital in a northeastern state has been accused of diverting drugs so that he could steal medication and then replacing the medication with tainted syringes. In addition to any problems caused by medication errors resulting from the drug diversion, 32 people have also been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C that the hospital worker carries.This case has similarities to a Colorado case where a former surgical technician was also accused of drug diversion and of infecting up to three dozen people with hepatitis C. The surgical technician is now serving a 30-year sentence in prison. Following the New Hampshire outbreak, officials from the Colorado hospital and the Mayo Clinic were invited by the northeastern hospital to share the methods they used to deal with their drug diversion problem.
The parents of a former soldier have filed a lawsuit claiming that their son was prescribed an excessive amount of medication following surgery at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The suit was filed in a Salt Lake City federal court against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. According to the lawsuit, despite the fact that the man's oxygen levels weren't stabilized and that he was suffering from sleep apnea, VA doctors disregarded these symptoms and discharged the former soldier. Prior to his death, the man believed he was released from the hospital to make room for more patients. Prescription medication was prescribed to alleviate his pain. While sleep apnea may have contributed to the former soldier's death, the lawsuit claims that medication errors related to the amount of painkillers prescribed by a VA physician were ultimately responsible for his death.
Technical advances have made possible many treatment options that were not available even 10 years earlier. However, doctors have to be careful not to develop and overdependence on technology. The use of technology will never replace skill, education and plain common sense when it comes to treating patients.Over the past 12 years, preventable deaths in U.S. hospitals have nearly doubled, from 100,000 to almost 200,000 per year. In fact, the U.S. currently has more preventable hospital deaths than any other developed country, and one in five patients in the U.S. suffer harm from medication errors or other medical errors.
A $3 million malpractice suit against a doctor at a family practice center has been filed in another state. This case may interest Denver readers because it illustrates what can happen when doctors make medication errors. The petitioner claims that the defendants prescribed Proscar, a brand name for finasteride, in order to treat symptoms of male pattern baldness. The drug has apparently not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in this way. He also claims that he was prescribed 500 percent more than the recommended amount, and that the prescription was renewed 13 times over 13 months. A doctor and a physician's assistant are both named in the suit. They are charged with administering medication incorrectly resulting in permanent physical and mental injury to the patient. To compensate for both non-economic damages and medical treatment -- both past and future -- the patient is seeking $3 million.