The deadly meningitis outbreak that occurred last fall will forever be a constant reminder of how pharmacy errors are inherent in manual pharmacy compounding. Because of the unsanitary conditions that caused the fungal contamination of steroid injections, about 700 people were sickened and over 40 people died in 19 states.
This incident is the most recent large-scale occurrence of a compounding error; however, it is hardly an isolated event. The journal American Health & Drug Benefits reports that injectable drugs injure over one million people in U.S. hospitals each year.
According to activists looking to advance medication safety, technology exists to prevent the occurrence of pharmacy compounding and medication errors. However, few pharmacies and hospitals use automated pharmacy compounding systems, even though medication compounding is a common practice. It is believed that technology would help reduce errors because it takes the potential cause of error—humans—out of the equation.
How it Works
The automated systems scan the barcodes and photograph the vials to ensure the right medication is selected. The product is matched up to a database and UV light is also used to provide extra disinfection. The automated system caps needles and dispenses the drug into a syringe, or the medication could be dispensed into an IV bag that includes an electronic barcode label.
When humans are mixing medicine for an IV bag or syringe, they have to dilute a small quantity of one drug and also add a few milliliters of another to get the right measurements. Sometimes things go wrong along the way. As of now, most pharmaceutical practices in hospitals and pharmacies involve humans. Because humans are not perfect, pharmacy mistakes can happen that may cause injuries or fatalities.
If you have been harmed, or if your loved one has died, due to a pharmacy mistake, please call a pharmacy error attorney at Kennedy Hodges, L.L.P. at 888-526-7616 for a free consultation today.