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Healthcare Providers to Put an End to Chemotherapy Errors

By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Jan 16, 2017

Chemotherapy drugs can effectively treat patients who suffer from a wide range of cancers, stopping cancer cells in their tracks. But chemotherapy can also be dangerous, and many have heard stories of the terrible side effects of chemotherapy treatment.

One common type of chemotherapy drug called vincristine is especially risky because it is neurotoxic. This means that while the drug can be injected into a vein when diluted, it should never be administered undiluted, or injected directly into spinal fluid. When it is, the results can be fatal.

Young Man Dies Because of Chemotherapy Drug Injection Error

In 2005, 21-year-old Christopher Wibeto, a patient suffering from lymphoma, became one of more than 125 victims of a fatal misadministration error of vincristine. The chemotherapy drug was injected directly into Wibeto’s spine, an error that doctors realized within minutes, quickly rushing him to Stanford University Medical Center. Despite their best attempts, however, the drug injected caused dementia and paralysis, resulting in Wibeto’s death in a few days’ time.

The story, as told by an article in Philly.com, is rare, but tragic. Now, healthcare providers are getting behind a campaign to forever prevent terrible errors like this one.

The “Just Bag It” Campaign

The “Just Bag It” campaign is a push to ensure that vincristine is never again administered to a patient via syringe, but is instead diluted and administered via an intravenous drip bag. While the idea behind the campaign makes sense, the logistics of it are more complicated: pharmacists would be required to remove the drug from its vials, dilute it, and then dispense it in a drip bag. Despite its fatal nature when administered via syringe into spinal fluid, the FDA has not cracked down on the problem, and allows for the drug to be dispensed via syringe as some physicians prefer to administer the medication per IV injection rather than drip bag.

Errors and Deaths Are Preventable

The message behind the Just Bag It campaign is clear: errors and deaths are preventable, and everything should be done to ensure that prevention. Had physicians executed a greater degree of care in the administration of vincristine to Wibeto, he may be alive today. The same is true for the dozens of other patients who have died because of a non-intravenous vincristine injection. When errors like this occur, measures should be implemented to prevent them in the future, and at-fault parties should be held liable.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorneys You Can Trust

At the law offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., our aggressive Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys are horrified when errors like this occur. If you have been the victim of a preventable medical error, or if you have lost a loved one because of a medical error, please contact us today. We will review your case for free, and advise you regarding your options for moving forward and recovering compensation for your losses.

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