Another botch-up by a New Zealand pharmacist has left a woman sick, depressed and fatigued after she was given the wrong medication.
In a recently released report the Health and Disability Commissioner found that the (unnamed) pharmacist failed in his care for the woman.
In June 2014, the woman went to her doctor for a three-month prescription of the anti-depressant fluoxetine before she went travelling. The next day she went to a pharmacist, who selected duride, a heart disease medication, instead of fluoxetine.
By September the woman’s depression had taken a “turn for the worst”, she had struggled to find employment, and had broken up with her partner. She had also suffered withdrawal sickness associated with coming off her medication so suddenly. A doctor eventually picked up on the error.
“Looking back, it made a lot of sense,” the woman told the commissioner… read more
The pharmacist, who’s name has been withheld from the public, told the commissioner he had “no explanation” for the error saying it “defied logic“.
Many things in New Zealand defy logic, one of them is how its health system could ever be described as “World Class”.
Another thing that defies logic is that patients (or their surviving relatives) have no right under New Zealand law to sue for personal injuries caused by the wrong medication. But wait, no one is able to sue for compensation in New Zealand, the state run ACC picks up the tab (if they deem it appropriate) and even then the deslustory payments cease if you leave the country. Tough luck if you’re going abroad for better treatment, or returning from a stay in New Zealand.
While a compensation culture has its drawbacks, the ability to sue NZ’s dodgy pharmacists may just help to keep their minds on the job their patients are paying them to do.
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Patients in New Zealand never get to know the names of the pharmacies that hand out incorrect medicines to patients, nor are they likely to know just how many chemists stuff-up their meds on a regular basis. Here’s one example.
A series of errors by two pharmacists saw a woman handed out the wrong drugs, double doses and incorrectly labelled medication five times in less than six months. The mistakes were detailed in a Health and Disability Commission finding released on Monday. source
The woman was prescribed Effexor-XR 37.5mg capsules to treat depression and anxiety. However, her pharmacist gave her double the dosage. She was then prescribed 40 mg nadolol to treat high blood pressure, but was given 40 mg propranolol instead which interacted with rizatriptan she’d been taking for headaches.
Surely a world class health system should be able to handle peak periods and hand out basic meds with some degree of precision? Everyone makes mistakes, but “systematic problems” and repeatedly messing up a patient’s meds is nothing short of negligence (Not that patients have any redress in-law in New Zealand, it’s all a bit of a gamble. She’ll be right)
For some reason, when these incidents are discovered, the pharmacists responsible are given anonymity and carry-on dispensing. It doesn’t exactly engender confidence, does it?
The same situation is happening in hospitals too, its not just the high street chemists that are a problem. This is from our Wiki page
In 2013 Eunice Richardson, 80, died after she was given Trimethoprim, a bacteriostatic antibiotic for a urinary tract infection when she was recovering from hip surgery. She was wearing a MedicAlert bracelet warning about her severe reaction to Trimethoprim, and each page of her documentation bore a large orange sticker warning about her allergy. “She was very particular about it and making sure that every doctor knew about it,” her husband Laurie Richardson said. She lost 60% of her skin to massive swollen blisters and died in pain in her husbands arms. Her death prompted nothing more than an apology from the Canterbury District Health board chief executive David Meates. source
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“Stick to the rules” A Woman was discovered dead in a clinic bed after doctor gave her unapproved doses of ibogaine, then left her in the care of his assistant when he went on holiday…
In New Zealand it is not uncommon for doctors to prescribe unapproved medicines or approved medicines for unapproved purposes. HDC previously considered the use of an approved medicine for an unapproved purpose in a case relating to the prescription of ketamine to patients with treatment resistant depression. Recently another case has been concluded which involved the use of an unapproved medicine, ibogaine …
It was found that the doctor breached Right 6(1) and Right 7(6) of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights . It was also found that the doctor failed to monitor the woman adequately or keep appropriate records. source
Starting to see a trend emerging here?
Over the last ten years, 243 general practitioners (in NZ) have been complained about in relation to a delayed diagnosis of cancer, with the number of complaints per year increasing significantly over that time. While we note that this increase is consistent with general complaint trends, complaints about cancer misdiagnosis now comprise a significantly larger percentage of all complaints about general practitioners than was the case a decade ago.
Colorectal and lung cancers were the cancers most commonly at issue in the complaints, and the diagnostic delays were often lengthy. Comparatively, complaints about the delayed diagnosis of breast cancer were less common and involved shorter delays…
The factors leading to a delayed diagnosis most commonly identified by our expert clinical advisors related to:
- the cancer presenting with non-specific or atypical symptoms;
- poor communication with secondary care;
- appropriate referrals not being made;
- inappropriate reliance on negative test results; and
- the GP failing to adequately take, review or consider relevant patient history… read on
The full report can be downloaded here.
- Anthony Hill, Health and Disability CommissionerAssisted by Dr Katie Elkin, Associate Commissioner Legal and Strategic Relations and Natasha Davidson, Analyst – Research and Education NZ Doctor, April 2015