Clinic Administered Wrong Antibiotic to Twice as Many Syphilis Patients as Originally Suspected
The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center administered an improper medication to about 650 people with syphilis or at risk of contracting the disease, more than twice the number previously believed, according to details of a CDC investigation released Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reports (Malnic, Los Angeles Times, 3/11).
GLC officials last March told Los Angeles County Department of Health Services officials that the center from 1999 to 2004 inadvertently administered the wrong antibiotic to about 300 individuals with syphilis. The patients received Bicillin C-R rather than Bicillin L-A. Bicillin C-R contains only half the dosage of Bicillin L-A, which CDC recommends to treat syphilis (California Healthline, 3/24/04).
CDC officials on Thursday said that prescription error was revealed when a patient read a package insert stating that the medicine received was not intended for the treatment of syphilis. According to investigators, 429 male patients with confirmed syphilis infections were prescribed Bicillin C-R from January 1999 to March 2004. In addition, 234 patients, mostly women, were prescribed Bicillin C-R after reported sexual contact with someone known or thought to have syphilis.
According to investigation documents, officials successfully contacted 282 patients with confirmed syphilis, of which 255 were treated with the correct drug, eight await evaluation and 19 declined treatment.
Of the 234 people who reported that they'd had sexual contact with someone known or thought to have the disease, investigators successfully contacted 116 patients. Doctors retested 98 such patients, and 22 patients showed evidence of a previous syphilis infection. Doctors treated 19 of the patients and 3 declined treatment.
King Pharmaceuticals, whose subsidiary markets Bicillin products, has agreed to packaging and label changes to reduce future prescription errors (Los Angeles Times, 3/11).