Just like doctors and nurses, pharmacists may be held accountable for malpractice if their carelessness causes preventable harm. Pharmacists have a legal responsibility to use sound professional judgment and proper care in filling prescriptions. When a pharmacist makes a preventable error due to inattention, carelessness or inexperience that causes a patient harm, the pharmacist may be held liable for the patient’s injuries.
At the law offices of Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC, our experienced Florida pharmacy mistake attorneys can review the details of the medication error that injured you or your loved one and discuss your legal options.
Common Types of Pharmacy Errors
Pharmacists are responsible for dispensing many different types and classes of drugs. Many medications have the potential to be dangerous when dispensed in the wrong dosage, or when taken in combination with certain other drugs. Pharmacists must use their professional training and knowledge to review the prescription order, evaluate whether the prescribed medication would cause any adverse interactions with other drugs and provide counseling to the patient about using the drug, if needed. The failure of a pharmacist to take these required steps when dispensing a prescription can cause a patient to suffer an adverse reaction or an overdose, leading to serious injuries.
Some of the most common types of pharmacy errors that have the potential to lead to patient harm include:
- Drug mix-ups. Many drugs have similar names. The drugs can be mixed up as a result of the pharmacist misreading the prescription or filling it incorrectly. For example, a patient may be given Celebrex instead of Celexa (one is an anti-inflammatory, the other is a depressant).
- Dosage errors. Another mistake that an inattentive pharmacist may make is a dosage error. Some medications are produced in different strengths. The pharmacist may give a patient too much or too little of a prescribed medication. If a patient receives too little medication, it could be ineffective in treating the patient’s condition. If a patient receives too much, it could result in an overdose, or cause many other adverse effects.
- Miscommunication errors. Pharmacists have a responsibility to speak with patients about how to take the medication, how much should be taken and potential side effects. Unfortunately, there are often communication errors between pharmacists and patients. For example, a pharmacist may fail to confirm a patient’s allergies, fail to confirm that a patient is taking other medications, or fail to discuss warnings with the patients or instructions for use.
When Pharmacy Errors Result in Patient Harm
The errors discussed above, ranging from communication errors to dispensing errors, can cause serious patient harm. The types of patient harm might include overdose, allergic reaction, side effects associated with taking the wrong drug or too much drug, worsening of health condition, and more.
Sometimes, the harm can be great, as pointed out in an article about medication dispensing errors, where an adult suffered permanent brain damage as a result of overdoses of two different drugs.
Filing a Pharmacy Error Lawsuit
When pharmacy errors lead to harm, the patient may have the right to bring a pharmacy error lawsuit seeking compensation. Pharmacists may liable for malpractice if they dispense the wrong drug, the incorrect dosage or fail to recognize a contraindication with other medicines the patient is taking. A lawsuit can be used to recover for both economic and noneconomic losses.