Seattle Hospitals Refusing to Report Prescription Errors to Authorities

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on October 14, 2016

medicationWhen many people hear the word “prescription,” they picture going to a local drug store to speak to a pharmacist and getting their prescription fulfilled. However, the majority of prescriptions are fulfilled at hospitals. Life-saving medications are fulfilled through the hospital’s pharmacy, which provides medications to nurses and doctors to be administered to patients in a timely manner. Unfortunately, prescription errors are common at Seattle area hospitals. The top two main causes of prescription errors are attributed to the prescribing physician and the pharmacist. Often times, the prescribing physician either writes down the wrong prescription on accident or misdiagnoses the patient and prescribes a medication that does not treat the illness. In addition, a pharmacist often times inadvertently fulfills the prescription with the wrong medication or the wrong amount.

When a prescription error occurs due to negligence, the patient can sue the hospital, doctor, or pharmacist for medical malpractice. When medical malpractice is reported to the hospital, the hospital is required to report the error. It is estimated that approximately 6,000 prescription errors occur at Washington state hospitals each year. However, only about 20 of these errors are reported to the Washington State Health Department. The Washington State Health Department has an office that handles all adverse event reports from hospitals. It investigates these adverse events to ensure that the hospital is following required procedures and publishes the reports.

Recently, Seattle Children’s Hospital reported two child deaths due to prescription errors. In one of the cases, the child was prescribed calcium chloride, which is a “High Alert Medication” class and is especially dangerous for small children. As such, it is vital that the dosage be properly calculated based on body weight, height, age, and the child’s condition.

The Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center recently came under fire after a father undergoing a simple procedure was incorrectly administered pain medication. He had severe complications, and his family decided to take him off of life support only two years later. Despite the reporting law, Yakima Regional never notified the Washington State Health Department of the adverse event. Seattle PD investigated this incident and concluded that while the health department is aware of severe underreporting of prescription errors, it does little to enforce reporting or punish reporting because it has a small budget and does not have any enforcement powers.

If you or a loved one was injured due to a medication error, call our accomplished Seattle prescription error lawyers today at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. to schedule a free consultation at (888) 228-3860.

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