Articles Posted in Dangerous Drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a rare “black box warning” on power morcellation devices for laparoscopic surgery to remove uterine fibroids or to perform a hysterectomy.

The warning cautions women considering undergoing fibroid removal surgery with the devices. The warning tells women that they may wish to choose an alternative type of surgery because surgery with the device could inadvertently spread undetected cancer.

The Wall Street Journal answers five questions about the device warning. You can read more here: 5 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FDA WARNING ON MORCELLATORS, UTERINE FIBROIDS

According to the FDA, it is estimated that one in 350 women who undergo hysterectomy or fibroid removal surgery has a uterine sarcoma, a kind of cancer. Morcellators are devices that dissect the uterus or fibroids using a spinning blade. However, if the blades come into contact with a malignant cancer, cancer cells can spread in the pelvis and abdomen worsening a person’s likelihood of surviving.

If you or a loved one has had an onset of cancer after power morcellation surgery, you should contact a faulty medical devices attorney about the possibility of filing a lawsuit.

The Farber Law Group, a personal injury law firm in Bellevue, Washington, has represented cases involving faulty medical devices. Call us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.
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attorney medication errors and mistakesIn 2012, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration warned that medications containing Codeine should not be given routinely to children because of the possibility of adverse reactions and concerns about the drug’s safety and efficacy.

Despite the FDA’s warnings and guidelines written by the American Academy of Pediatrics, a study shows that medications containing codeine are still being prescribed to hundreds of thousands of children in hospital emergency rooms across the United States.

Concerns about Codeine and children

There are several concerns about giving children Codeine, an opioid pain reliever. Codeine is often prescribed to children along with other medications to control coughing or to control pain. The problem with giving Codeine to children is that between one and seven of every 100 people rapidly metabolizes the drug and in this case, the child can overdose. Children often do not metabolize the drug the same as an adult patient.

Why do Doctors continue to prescribe Codeine to children?

While many doctors have taken heed of the FDA’s black box warning on medications containing codeine, some doctors are still prescribing the medication to children despite the risk. One wonders why? The reasons may be that some ER physicians may not be up on information regarding prescribing to pediatrics. The other reason may be that physicians may have themselves taken the medication as a child, prescribed it for years and it is their “go to” medication.

Information for Parents

If your child has just had tonsils and/or adenoids removed, make sure they are not prescribed medications that contain Codeine. If your child is prescribed a medication with Codeine as an ingredient, ask their doctor to prescribe a different medication for pain.

If your child is taking Codeine for a cough or tooth extraction or for some other reason, be vigilant and make sure they don’t experience side effects of Codeine overdose including excessive sleepiness, disorientation, labored breathing and blueness of the lips and mouth. The child can experience breathing problems which can prove fatal.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured due to medication errors and pharmaceutical malpractice. If you have questions about a serious medication error, contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.
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A lengthy article in the January edition of Vanity Fair magazine, “Danger in the Ring” highlights the plight of thousands of women who have adverse events such as linked to the NuvaRing (etonogestrel/ethinyl estradiol vaginal ring) birth control device manufactured by Merck. The magazine asks the question, “Is the Contraceptive NuvaRing Killing Thousands?”

NuvaRing is a vaginal ring that releases low doses of estrogen and progestin over three weeks which prevents ovulation. A new study links an increased risk of venous thrombosis in women who use the birth control device.

The Vanity Fair article profiles the tragic death of Erika Langhard, a brilliant 24-year-old student, who died of a pulmonary embolism — a blockage of the main artery of the lung caused by a blood clot — linked to NuvaRing.

bellevue medical malpractice attorneyAn unidentified Kirkland plastic surgery patient had a severe reaction to medication and suffered a seizure while she was about to undergo surgery after a registered nurse, Angela Huffman, apparently substituted the Fetanyl medication the young woman should have received with a stimulant.

Federal investigators are investigating Huffman and she faces multiple for stealing liquid painkillers and replacing the drug with other solutions including saline. Huffman faces losing her nursing license as well as charges in criminal court.

Huffman, who was licensed as a nurse in July of 2012, was fired from a Bellevue plastic surgery clinic in August 2012 after she was caught forging prescriptions. She then was hired to work at a Kirkland plastic surgery office where she began stealing drugs.

Over the years, we have seen a number of instances where medical professionals, including nurses, have been caught stealing medications such as narcotics from patients. Sometimes one will see a euphemism, “drug diversion” to refer to the theft of medication from patients or clinics but this euphemism does not describe the potential or actual harm to patients that can be done be stealing or adulterating drugs.

We have seen convictions of nurses from stealing drugs from patients, including one case in which a nurse was convicted of stealing morphine from a dying patient. In Colorado, a nurse, Kristen Diane Parker, 26, gave patients Hepatitis C with dirty needles after she used syringes with painkillers meant for patients for herself and then filled those same syringes with saline and injected patients.

How do nurses steal drugs?

Drug addicted nurses have several schemes which enable them to feed their addictions. In some cases, nurses will choose to work in a surgery center or in a cancer ward where narcotics are used. Often, an addicted nurse will volunteer to care for a patient who is on pain medications based on looking a their charts. They will often give the patient some other drug like Ativan, Benadryl or Vistaril instead of the narcotic and secret the narcotic for themselves. When addictive drugs like Ativan, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Xanax, Valium or Vicodin is in pill farm, they will palm the drug and drop it into a pocket to use later.
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medical device recall lawyerIn a move that seems long overdue, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is implementing a database which will track medical devices enabling physicians and patients to obtain information about medical devices and allowing the FDA, in a centralized system, to track potential problems with medical devices.

Starting September 20, the FDA has instituted a final rule requiring medical device manufactures to provide a unique tracking code to medical devices. This code — known as Unique Device Identifier (UDI) — is a code on the device label, packaging or product which identifies the device and the production lot/batch, serial number, manufacturing date and expiration date of a device. The device database will contain other information about the device such as whether the device is sterile or needs to be sterilized, whether it contains rubber latex, whether it is safe with MRI machines and whether the device is prescription or over the counter.

Medical devices such as hip implants, transvaginal mesh implants, knee implants, heart wires, and pacemakers will all be required to have a UDI.

It is hard to believe that up until this system, the FDA really had no centralized way to track medical devices that failed. In fact, medical devices unlike most products sold on the market could not be uniquely identified. The FDA has received more than 17,700 reports of medical-device related device and thousands more patients have been injured by defective medical devices, some of them seriously.

Device registry systems have been in place in other countries, including England and Australia, and help researchers quickly identify medical devices with a high rate of failure to alert physicians and patients and to provide a system in which faulty devices can be pulled off the market.

Take for example the DePuy ASR XL hip implant device. The ASR was marketed implanted in approximately 100,000 patients across the globe but, because the U.S. did not track the device, it is unknown how many patients received the device. In England and in Australia, the medical authorities were alerted as early as 2008 that the hip implant had a high failure rate and they removed the device from their markets. In The United States, the FDA started receiving hundreds of complaints about the DePuy hip implants but DePuy continued to sell the hip implant devices until a recall was announced in 2010. Unfortunately, thousands of people suffered serious complications from the device.
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The fungal meningitis outbreak that we wrote about just 9 days ago has claimed more lives. The outbreak of the rare fungal meningitis that is linked to a tainted medication has killed 14 people and 170 more have reportedly become infected.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that up to 14,000 people are at risk of the illness. While no patients in Washington state have become ill, there has been one case reported in neighboring Idaho.

Many patients who had a steroid injection in their spine, hip or knee since May are anxiously awaiting to see if they show signs of illness. According to the CDC, in some patients it takes weeks before the disease to manifest itself and “potentially contaminated injection were given starting May 21, 2012.”

Meningitis Is a disease which causes inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. In this latest outbreak of meningitis, the source appears to be steroid medication sourced from a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.

A lawsuit was filed this week in a Minnesota court by a woman who believes she was infected from a steroid injection she had to relieve back pain.

In all eleven states have had cases of meningitis and it is believed that 23 states have received drugs from the compounding pharmacy Continue reading

The U.S. Centers for Disease control has linked an outbreak of fungal meningitis to a steroid medication traced to a Massachusetts compounding plant. The medication is suspect in the deaths of five people and it is believed to have sickened 35 others. Several of those that became ill have also suffered strokes linked to the infection.

seattle dangerous drugs lawyerFungal meningitis is a rare illness but it is life threatening. It is usually seen in patients with high risk factors including AIDS, leukemia or people with immunodeficiency. It is not transmitted from person-to-person and is usually contracted by inhaling fungal spores in the environment or in contaminated soil.,

In this case, however, the outbreak of aspergillus meningits appears to have been contracted from a contaminated medication used in a steroid injection in the spine to treat back pain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration tested some sealed vials of the steroid medication and it was found to contain the fungus.

So far, the reported cases of meningitis have been in Virginia, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana and Tennessee.

The New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. has  recalled three lots of the medication and pharmacies are warned to discontinue all products from he New England Compounding Center until the investigation is complete.

Compound pharmacies combine drugs to create a customized medication or they repackage drugs bought in bulk into single dosages. The fear is that the sterility of medications can be compromised during the repackaging process and that might be the problem in this case.
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A California doctor, Dr. Hsui-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, faces 24 felony counts including second degree murder in the prescription drug overdose deaths of three young men.

According to the charging papers, Tseng provided drug seekers with narcotics such as Xanax, oxycodone, methadone, and Soma and she wrote more than 27,000 prescriptions over three years.

Prosecutors said that 12 people who were provided drugs by Tseng died of overdoses but they only charged her for the deaths of the three men’s who deaths were solely attributed to the narcotics she supplied.

Drug overdose death rates in the U.S. have more been soaring since the 1990. In 2008 alone, more than 36,000 individuals died due to drug overdoses and most of the deaths were from prescription drugs. In fact, prescription drug overdose has eclipsed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death.

100 people die from drug overdoes every day in the United States

Prescription Drug Overdoses in Washington State

Prescription drug abuse and overdoses are an epidemic in Washington state. More people die every year from prescription drug abuse than combined deaths caused by meth, cocaine and heroin combined.

The state plays a role in creating laws which prevents “pill mills” or so-called pain clinics that operate much like Tseng’s clinic. Washington State’s initiatives seeks to control how doctors use painkillers and when doctors should refer patients to pain specialists.

The Washington legislature enacted a law (RCW 70.225) which provides for a Prescription Monitoring Program. In 2012, the law was extended to include veterinarians.
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seattle defective products lawyerI’ve always been a fan of science fiction and spy stories but I ran across an article on the BBC News web-site that was a bit too chilling even for me. Could someone actually be murdered by a person with a medical implant device by using a radio signal? I can almost see the plot line of spy thriller: a foreign dignitary is murdered when his defibrillator is switched off via a cell phone.

In “Warning over medical implant attacks“, technology correspondent Mark Ward writing for the BBC says studies reveal that medical implants are vulnerable to attacks and lives could be threatened.

Today, many patients have medical devices implanted in their bodies: Diabetics have insulin pumps which deliver insulin as needed, people with heart conditions have pacemakers to regulate their heart beat and others have defibrillators that can get a heart back into rhythm.

Some of these medical devices have wireless connections which allow physicians to monitor, update or adjust the devices remotely.

A researcher at the Internet security firm, McAfee, has discovered that these medical devices may be vulnerable to attack through their wireless connections. Researcher Barnaby Jack said:

We can influence any [insulin] pump within a 300ft [91m] range. We can do that without requiring its ID number.

Research Professor Kevin Fu at the University of Massachusetts is doing research work that is similar to McAfee’s and he has found that it is possible to turn off a defibrillator by capturing the radio signal.

While up to now, there have been no reports of a person or entity hacking a medical device, it is comforting to know that scientists are out there working on technology to safeguard patients.
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The Federal Drug Administration has issued a warning to health care professionals after a pharmacist mixed up two medications with similar sounding names causing serious injury to a patient’s eye.

The FDA says that a pharmacist accidentally dispensed Durasal, a wart remover, instead of the steroidal eye drop Durezol to a patient, resulting in serious injury. Durezol was being prescribed to the unnamed patient to help with inflammation and pain after eye surgery. Durasal contains salicylic acid and one can only image the pain that the mistake caused to the patient.
attorney for prescription errors
The FDA says that this is not the first time the two similarly named products have been confused. According to the FDA, in the other cases, the prescription error was discovered before the patient actually used the eye drops.

The FDA says Durasal has not been approved by the FDA for wart removal and has asked Elorac, Inc., the drug’s distributor, to remove the product from the marketplace.

As part of the FDA approval process, drugs are supposed to be screened for similar names but in the case of Durasol,the drug had not been screened by the FDA.

Preventable medication errors can result in serious physical injury to patients and sometimes even death. Medication errors can occur to one of 25 hospital patients and it is estimated that medication errors result in more than 48,000 patients every year.

The following are some common reasons for medication errors:

  • Medication prescribed without knowledge of a patient’s allergies, lab results, diagnosis.
  • Insufficient drug information — not understanding drug interactions or having information about a drug recall.
  • Misreading of a prescription due to poor handwriting
  • Confusion between drugs with similar names.
  • Confusion regarding dosage units.
  • Lack of proper labeling.
  • Improper storage of medications which can affect their potency.
  • Distraction to the pharmacist which can cause lead in a medication mistake.
  • Overworked pharmacists.
  • Relying too heavily on technicians.

Medication errors can cause serious injury and even be deadly. If you or a loved one has been injured by a medication error, you should seek medical attention immediately and you should bring all your medications with you if you are not in a hospital setting.

If your injuries are serious, you might want to consider contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you make a claim against the professional’s medical malpractice insurance to cover your damages.

The Farber Law Group, a personal injury and medical malpractice law firm has more than 30 years experience representing people seriously injured by medical malpractice and pharmacy errors. We represent our clients on a contingency basis which means that our clients pay a percentage of the recovery from the settlement or verdict in the case.

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Prescription Errors – an all too common form of Medical Malpractice
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