The professionals responsible for providing medical care to patients in the United States have a duty to do no harm to the people they treat and to adhere to the standard of care for every patient’s condition. There are strict rules when it comes to medical treatment in the US, but medical negligence is, unfortunately, one of the most common causes of accidental deaths in the country.
One of the most commonly overlooked forms of medical malpractice in the United States is pharmacy error. Pharmacists and their teams are medical professionals and have a duty to fill prescriptions accurately using the highest possible quality and safety standards. If a pharmacist causes an injury to a patient due to a mistake with the patient’s prescribed medication, the pharmacist could be liable for medical malpractice.
There are many types of pharmacy errors that can lead to severe consequences for affected patients. If you take any prescription medications, it’s always important to verify your prescriptions with your doctor and to check the contents of your prescription packets before consuming medications. Verify that you have received the correct medication in the correct dosage according to your doctor’s instructions. If you experience adverse side effects, seek medical attention right away. You may have been injured by a pharmacy error and entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit for pharmacy error.
Many medications have similar-sounding names, and some are nearly identical save for a few letters. All medications have multiple verifying markers, such as color, shape, and engraved or printed markings on pills and tablets. Pharmacists must ensure complete accuracy when it comes to filling prescriptions. If there is any doubt about the medication prescribed, dosage, or if the doctor’s handwritten prescription note is simply illegible, the pharmacist has a duty to contact the doctor to verify the prescription before filling it.
Some medications function very differently at different dosage levels, and filling a prescription with the wrong dosage could be fatal in some cases. For example, 10 milligrams of a medication may be enough to help a patient manage a medical condition, while 100 milligrams would send them to the emergency room.
If a pharmacist has any doubt about the dosage size provided by a prescribing doctor, they should follow up with the prescriber to ensure the correct dosage. It’s also vital for prescribing doctors to take the patient’s medical history and current medical status into account when prescribing a dosage, and the pharmacist will need to review the prescribed dose to ensure it does not conflict with the patient’s existing medications.
Failure to Include Instructions
The pharmacist has a duty to provide every patient with clear instructions and safety warnings for their prescriptions. These instructions tell patients how to take their medications, list potential side effects, and provide general guidelines for safe and effective use. For example, if the patient should not eat certain foods or take certain over-the-counter medications while taking a prescribed medication, their filled prescription should include clear warnings for these interactions. If a patient makes a mistake with their medication because they never received instructions, this could constitute medical negligence on the part of the pharmacist.
Failure to Identify a Dangerous Drug Interaction.
Some medications cause dangerous medical issues when combined with certain other medications. A pharmacist must review a patient’s prescription history to check for any conflicts with a new prescription. If a dangerous interaction is identified, the pharmacist must confer with the prescribing doctor to determine the best available alternative medication.
Some drug interactions can lead to acute medical events like heart attacks, strokes, and internal bleeding. Depending on the combination of drugs and the amounts taken, the drug interaction could prove fatal.
Proving Fault for Pharmacy Errors
If a patient suffers a medical injury from a pharmacy error, liability could potentially fall to their prescribing doctor, the pharmacy responsible for incorrectly filling their prescription, or both in some cases. Proving fault may require simply comparing the prescribing doctor’s recorded prescription to the prescription details filled by the pharmacist, or it may require reviewing the pharmacy’s drug review record for the patient. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help a client gather evidence to prove a pharmacy error occurred and caused the injury they have experienced.
Pharmacy errors can cause severe, lasting damage. If you or a loved one recently experienced a dangerous medical event due to a mistake your pharmacy or prescribing doctor made, it’s vital to seek legal guidance as soon as possible. Our firm can provide you with the legal resources and experience you need to pursue a medical malpractice claim if necessary.