One of the great advances of modern medicine is the ability to access personalized medications, formulated and packaged specifically for you an your needs. The possibilities inherent in this type of individualized treatment can be life-giving for thousands of patients worldwide who have very specific needs and weaknesses.
A woman has been taking a common arthritis medication for a few months when she develops a persistent cough that grows worse with time. At first she thinks it's just a cold, then maybe allergies. She consults her doctor, but by then it has progressed. It turned out to be a deadly fungal infection called histoplasmosis that her arthritis medication allowed to grow. Who is at fault? An otherwise-healthy man taking a common diabetes medication dies from a sudden heart attack. Who is responsible? An active young woman taking a popular birth control pill suddenly collapses from life-threatening blood clots in her lungs. Who is to blame?
Sometimes getting your medication right can be a bit of a guessing game for your doctor and pharmacist. They need to balance out the benefits of a drug with potential side effects while dealing with other obstacles that are more patient specific, such as difficulty swallowing pills or being prone to allergies. In most cases the drugs that are ultimately prescribed are the same ones that were approved by the FDA and are used by thousands every day. For some people, the FDA drug doesn't seem to be the right choice, and they wind up working with their doctor and pharmacist on possible alternatives. One option they explore is compounded medication from a compounded pharmacy.
At this point, nearly every Massachusetts resident has likely heard of the horrific meningitis outbreak that has resulted from a steroid produced at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts. It is certain that a string of lawsuits for pharmaceutical malpractice will be filed against this company, since over 300 people in 17 states have contracted fungal meningitis or joint infections from the tainted shots, and 24 have died. It is expected that more victims will still be diagnosed with this rare form of fungal meningitis as over 17,600 vials of the pharmacy's compound were distributed to 76 clinics in 23 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Although some Massachusetts residents probably believe that the nationwide conversion to electronic medical records should help to improve the quality of healthcare by making it less expensive and more efficient, a report has recently been released about a number of serious drawbacks to the switch. For example, pharmaceutical malpractice could result when some drug orders may be transferred from a hospital to a pharmacy using a different electronic application. This may result in a different drug or dose than the one that was originally ordered. In fact, the report cites an example of a mistaken electronic order for a dangerously high dose of a heart medicine that was caught just in time.
Recently, previous posts have delved into many issues affecting the residents of nursing homes throughout Massachusetts. Some of these issues relate to pharmaceutical malpractice and medical professional negligence, which can frequently arise in a nursing home environment. Another important issue that has come to light recently involves an arbitration clause which some nursing homes are now inserting into their documents upon admission. This clause can have far-reaching consequences that the family members and guardians should be made aware of.
The prescription medications that are a product of modern medicine have saved countless lives of the residents of Massachusetts. However, medication mistakes and pharmaceutical errors can and do happen. Sometimes, these medical errors can have grave consequences.