Infusion pumps are medical devices used in hospitals to deliver IV nutrients, medications, antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, pain medicine, insulin, patient-controlled analgesia, or PCA. The pumps are designed to administer a certain amount of fluid or medicine over a period of time. Even though they are intended to make patients more comfortable, pump malfunction or medication errors can occur.
A rare but fatal medication error can occur when the cancer drug vincristine is administered improperly. Vincristine is often ordered to treat various types of cancer, including childhood leukemia. It is often administered along with methotrexate.
Charlene Whalen’s doctor prescribed methadone to help her deal with chronic back pain. But the dosage, according to testimony in a trial three years later, was too high. In the middle of the night, the 49-year-old Maine woman stopped breathing in her sleep and suffered brain damage resulting from oxygen deprivation. Defense attorneys argued that the dosage prescribed by her doctor was within “an appropriate range” and that neither the pharmacist nor the pharmacy’s computer system raised any alarms.