Doctors routinely prescribe medications for their patients to treat all types of illnesses and injuries. When a pharmacy fills the prescription, people have a right to expect that the pharmacist is well-trained and will dispense the correct medication. While most pharmacies are safe, prescription errors are not uncommon, which puts the public at risk. If a pharmacy error causes harm to a patient, it may be possible for the victim to pursue a personal injury lawsuit based on pharmacy malpractice.
Pharmacy Errors at a Glance
Pharmacy errors can be caused by numerous factors, such as a doctor or other healthcare provider prescribing the wrong medication. In this situation, the doctor may be held liable if a patient is injured by taking the wrong medicine. On the other hand, the error may occur when a pharmacist or pharmacy technician dispenses the wrong medication or the incorrect dosage. In any event, patients who take the wrong medication or an inadequate dosage are at risk of experiencing serious side effects, an illness or injury, or a worsening medical condition.
In recent years, there have been incidents involving prescription errors at national pharmacy retailers. In one high-profile case, several retail locations of a national chain in New Jersey were investigated for dispensing the wrong medications — high blood pressure medications were replaced with drugs to lower cholesterol, while schizophrenia medication was dispensed rather than high blood pressure pills. In a similar case, a young boy experienced erratic behavior after he was given asthma medication by another pharmacy chain instead of medicine to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). What is striking about these cases is that the labels and information on the packaging were accurate, but the medications had been mixed up.
What to do When a Pharmacy Dispenses the Wrong Medication
People who take the same medication regularly may overlook the packaging information or fail to notice that the pill is different. Because the consequences of taking the wrong medication can be dire, however, it is crucial for patients to be vigilant. First, patients should bring any questions or concerns about a prescription to the pharmacist’s attention. Additionally, patients should ask their doctors to write down the name and correct dosage of the medication separately and identify any generic drugs that may be prescribed.
Obviously, patients should also read all labels and instructions, and inspect any medication before taking it. If the medicine looks different from what was expected, call the pharmacist to make sure the correct prescription was provided. Finally, anyone who takes the wrong medication inadvertently should seek medical treatment.
Can I sue the pharmacy over a prescription mistake?
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a pharmacy error, you may be able to recover meaningful compensation. In order to have a valid personal injury claim, it is necessary to show that the pharmacy committed malpractice by dispensing the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage and that the error caused an illness or injury that would not have occurred had the correct medication/dosage been prescribed.
While numerous claims have been filed against national pharmacy retailers for prescription errors, pursuing a claim can be complicated. A thorough investigation must be conducted to review the healthcare provider’s prescription order to determine if the pharmacy dispensed the wrong medicine or dosage. Moreover, proving that the prescription error caused you harm may require the testimony of an expert witness, such as another doctor or healthcare provider. Ultimately, if you have been the victim of a pharmacy error, it takes a skilled personal injury attorney to protect your rights.
About the Author: Robert Marino became a lawyer because he wanted to give a voice to the voiceless. He does just that by focusing his practice on cases where people need help standing up to those who have injured them and he helps his clients protect their recoveries and benefits. His passion for the law extends to his role as an adjunct professor of law, where, for more than 15 years, he has been teaching future generations of lawyers. Rob’s practice areas include personal injury, labor law, trusts & estates, business law, medical malpractice, appellate law, and surrogate’s court.