The US Food and Drug Administration says that while many factors affect a patient’s chances of medication mistakes, they are most likely to be the victim of a dosage error.A few examples prove how easy it is for a physician to administer the wrong dosage in Virginia:
- A doctor ordered 260 milligrams of Taxol for a cancer patient, but the patient received the wrong medication at the pharmacy. The pharmacist mistakenly prepared 260 milligrams of Taxotere, a different chemotherapy drug with a much higher concentration. When the patient died of an overdose, the error went unreported, as doctors assumed the patient had succumbed to the cancer.
- An elderly patient was told to take a 10-milligram daily dose of methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis. However, the patient should only have been prescribed 10-milligrams weekly, and the 7 times higher dose proved fatal.
- A patient was killed when he was injected with 200 units of insulin, which had been abbreviated as “20 U” (the “U” was mistaken for another zero).
- Due to a miscommunication, a patient received a fatal overdose of the narcotic fentanyl when his wife accidentally applied multiple patches of the drug to his skin.