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MAHC pharmacy admits serious shortcomings

IMG_7753While she was a patient at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC), our mother was exposed to more than 4,200 medication errors, ranging from prescription errors to repeated failures to follow recommended best practices.  Many of these errors –and their effects on our mother–  could have been prevented by the hospital’s pharmacy.  While MAHC has repeatedly denied that any of these errors occurred and claimed that all care was “appropriate,” its pharmacy has had to concede that the system it used to ensure the protection of patients was “old.” 

In a stunning submission to the Ontario College of Pharmacists, the pharmacists that operated MAHC’s Bracebridge site admitted that “there was no drug interaction program available on this system.”  This was an astonishing oversight that could have left countless patients exposed to serious drug interactions that would normally be flagged when the pharmacist processed the prescription. 

They also admitted that the current system, which was in place during our mother’s three- month stay, does not allow the entry of physician-ordered protocols for the safe delivery of medication, such as minimum levels for blood pressure and heart rate below which scheduled doses should be held.  How long this breakdown in basic safety practices has existed at MAHC and how long it will continue to be permitted is not disclosed.  It is just one more example of how patient safety is not taken seriously at MAHC and how patients in the past and those there today have been recklessly exposed to avoidable risk and harm.

Here is another example.  In a further shocking departure from long established pharmacy safeguards, MAHC pharmacists admitted that prescription orders for our mother that had been entered by a pharmacist assistant were never verified or double-checked.  This same breakdown in safety at other hospitals has been the cause of serious patient harm and even death.

All this is another reason why there needs to be a comprehensive independent  investigation into the practices of MAHC, including a review of patient records to determine the extent of patient injuries resulting from a breakdown in safety procedures.

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