The lawyers at Kennedy Hodges L.L.P. have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions in response to the overwhelming number of people who have suffered an injury after receiving the wrong prescription, wrong dosage, or incorrect instructions for use from their pharmacy. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person, read on to learn how to protect your legal rights.
Officially speaking, the board of pharmacy in your state is responsible for issuing and regulating pharmacists’ licenses and pharmacies’ permits. What does this mean for you? When it comes to your health and safety, it means a lot.
The state pharmacy board acts as a filter and line of defense between pharmacists or pharmacies and consumers. Ideally, the board approves the best-qualified people and facilities to safely dispense prescription drugs to you and your family. Of course, we know better than to assume that life is idyllic, and this is when the state pharmacy board is in charge of dispensing tough punishments and even revoking licenses and permits.
Because of the extraordinary responsibility that pharmacists have to keep the public safe, they are held to very high standards in both their professional and personal lives. Professionally, pharmacists can have their licenses revoked for violations ranging from filling expired prescriptions to dispensing errors both inadvertent and intentional.
In their personal lives, pharmacists also risk losing their licenses when they face alcohol-related charges like DUIs or DWIs, substance abuse and chemical dependency, and failure to report even misdemeanor charges on license renewal forms.
Conflict of Interest? You Bet.
While the rules look great from the outside, many problems exist in their execution. State pharmacy boards are typically only able to inspect pharmacies every few years, and there are no federal regulations in place that require pharmacies to report prescription errors.
When these boards do choose to hold disciplinary hearings, there are usually many big-chain pharmacy employees present, often voting on their own punishments. This leaves even more room for error, as each protects their own.
Where pharmacy boards fail to protect the public, our law firm must step up. If you have been harmed by decisions—or lack thereof—made by your state’s pharmacy board, you deserve compensation. Click on our live chat feature to connect with us today.
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It has been estimated that nearly five percent of prescriptions filled each year have errors, from dosage mistakes to simply not being the correct drug. In a world where a mistake could mean life or death, these odds are not promising.
How can medical professionals make such grave mistakes so frequently? There is no one answer, as the prescription “Swiss cheese” risk model is riddled with holes. If doctors hand-write prescriptions or use an unusual shorthand for dosage amounts, errors can occur. If pharmacists write down the wrong prescription or mislabel the bottle, errors can occur. Even the problematic pharmacist shortage leaves large opportunities for error, with fewer pharmacists trying to supervise busy pharmacy technicians with ever-increasing workloads.
Pinpointing How Your Prescription Error Occurred
Discovering what led to your prescription error can be difficult, but it will eventually boil down to one of two people—your doctor or your pharmacist. Finding out which of the two is ultimately responsible is far more difficult.
It can be very difficult to trace a possible breakdown in communication between the doctor and the pharmacist. This transfer of information is often where the most mistakes slip through the cracks, and can be the hardest to detect. Whether your doctor dictated an improper drug or dosage or the pharmacists misheard or misread something, finding fault can be a difficult task.
Prescription errors are very serious offenses that can permanently injure or even kill victims. If you have been the victim of pharmacy malpractice, you deserve compensation. To learn more about making pharmacies pay for their mistakes, download our exclusive free book, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Your Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.
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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more commonly known as ADD or ADHD, is a relative newcomer to the world of illnesses and disorders that are now treated medically. Nearly one in ten school-aged children are affected by ADHD in the United States, and over two-thirds of children diagnosed are male.
Forging New Territory: Pharmaceutical Treatment for ADHD
Because of the significant negative effects that ADHD can have on a child’s education and social life, doctors are still divided over the best course of treatment. Most commonly, doctors turn to stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall to address symptoms such as lack of focus and restlessness. As is common in young patients, however, symptoms present themselves in constantly changing ways. This can make finding the proper medication and dosage a challenge, and some doctors think that they have found another option—a very controversial option.
A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the use of antipsychotic medications, like those your son received, is on the rise among children and teens. The only problem with this is that the Food and Drug Administration has only approved the use of antipsychotics in this age group for the treatment of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, irritability associated with autism, and certain symptoms of Tourette syndrome.
This leaves nearly 40 percent of antipsychotic prescriptions among kids and teens in the “off-label” use category—meaning that the FDA has not approved the use of these drugs to treat ADHD. Antipsychotics bring a slew of side effects to the table for young people, including diabetes and weight gain, but long-term effects are not yet known.
While this may be troubling to you as a parent, off-label uses for drugs are legal and fairly common. While it is likely that the pharmacist dispensed the drug properly according to your doctor’s orders, it is worth a call to both the doctor and pharmacist to ensure that the drug was not given in error. This will also give you a chance to discuss your concerns about antipsychotics with your doctor, and determine if that is a route that you want to pursue or abandon.
If your child was harmed by a prescription error, our law firm is available to help you today. Simply click on the live chat feature on this page, and you will receive immediate answers to your questions.
They say that timing is everything. More car accidents occur at certain times, like late weekend nights or weekday rush hours. Airfares are cheapest on Wednesdays. Did you know that timing also matters when it comes to filling your prescriptions?
Overworked medical professionals make mistakes, and pharmacists are no exception. However, as it turns out, there may be a way to tell when your pharmacist will be overworked. A study that looked at prescription drug deaths from 1979 to 2000 saw that most deaths occurred during the first week of the month.
Was pharmacy error to blame for these deaths? Many experts suspect that they could be. Pharmacies face a huge increase in demand during the first week of the month. What is the cause for this rise in demand? Social Security and public assistance payments are typically disbursed at the beginning of the month, so people who struggle to pay for their medications wait until the beginning of the month to order prescriptions. This leaves pharmacists scrambling to fill orders and consult with patients, and it opens the door for greater risk of pharmacy errors.
Wait Until the Middle of the Month
While you cannot always control when you need a prescription, if you can help it, aim for mid-month or towards the end of the month to place your order. Your pharmacist may have more time to consult with you individually, and has likely had less pressure to get your medication order filled quickly.
Have you experienced the beginning of the month pharmacy dash? Did it result in an error with your prescription? Talk to us today by clicking the live chat link on this page to learn more about your rights when it comes to pharmacy errors.
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Because pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are busy trying to keep up with filling prescriptions, they make this type of mistake behind the pharmacy counter more often than you may realize. This is especially true when patients take several prescriptions and are picking up multiple medications at one time.
Generics Add to the Confusion
For example, you may have a prescription for a name-brand drug. But because most insurance plans call for generics to be used whenever possible, the pharmacy may have filled both by mistake. If you are at the pharmacy to pick up several medications, you may not realize that you have essentially received a double dose of the same medication. This is why you should take care to monitor the medications you take and to keep a list of your current medications.
Keep in mind that many consumers don’t know the name of the generic equivalent of the name-brand drug that their doctors prescribed—they trust their pharmacists to provide them with the correct medication. Pharmacists should be very careful to ensure they don’t fill a double dose of the same drug. When a pharmacist commits this type of pharmacy error, the pharmacist and pharmacy can be held liable.
Have you received the wrong dosage of a drug at your local pharmacy? To find out how to hold the pharmacy accoutnable for the injuries and medical bills you sustained, request a free copy of our book How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Your Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.
The Results of Undiluted Medication for Pharmacy Patients
What Happens When Pharmacists Fill the Wrong Dosage of Drugs
While it doesn’t seem like a prescription error like this should ever take place at a pharmacy, it could happen because your name is similar to another patient’s name, you resemble another customer, or the pharmacy employee was not paying close attention.
The reality is that pharmacy technicians and pharmacists are often in a hurry. They are busy answering phone calls, answering patients’ questions, managing the drive thru window, filling prescriptions, and ringing customers up at the cash register. Unfortunately, because they have so many duties, they often get interrupted in the middle of a task. In addition, many pharmacy technicians and pharmacists work very long hours—sometimes 10- or 12-hour shifts—and are often working while drowsy. Any one of these things can contribute to medication error where a member of the pharmacy team ends up giving the wrong medication to a customer.
In addition, medication errors can occur when a member of the pharmacy staff takes a short cut or isn’t paying close attention to his duties. In fact, this lack of attention to detail is often what causes pharmacy employees to hand out the wrong medications to customers.
No matter what the reason, it is never ok to hand out the wrong drug to a customer. Serious injuries can result from taking medication that was intended for someone else, and pharmacies that push their employees to work long hours and carry unreasonable workloads should be held accountable for serious medication mix-ups.
Have you been hurt after receiving someone else’s prescription drug? Request your free copy of our book entitled How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Your Injuries Caused by Medication Errors or contact our office today using our live chat.
Reasons Hospital Patients Receive the Wrong Medication
Medication Safety Tips
Preventing Pediatric Medication Poisonings
There is no state or federal law that requires you to take back your unused medications. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recommends the following methods for disposing of unwanted drugs:
- Find a local disposal program. Many states and communities have regularly scheduled drug disposal events that make it easy for you to discard your unused medications. These events are often held at pharmacies, police stations, sheriff departments, and even hazardous-waste disposal sites. To find out about disposing of your unused prescriptions, you can ask your pharmacist or call your state board of pharmacy.
- Dispose of unused medications at home. If there is no drug-disposal program in your city, you can dispose of your unused prescription drugs at home. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends checking the label on the medication and following its safe-disposal instructions. While the FDA suggests flushing some drugs down the toilet, that is not the case for all drugs. If you cannot locate instructions on the label or access the FDA’s website for the list of drugs that should be flushed, you can always take your pills out of the container and put them in sealable bag mixed with cat litter or coffee grounds and throw it away in the trash. However, before you do this, you should check with your state pharmacy board to see if it has specific guidelines on prescription disposal.
In addition to disposing prescriptions in these two ways, there is also a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. While the last one just passed in September, there will likely be another one during the spring of 2015. These national days are coordinated by the DEA to provide consumers across this nation with easy collection sites that will take back their pills for free, with no questions asked.
By properly disposing of your old prescriptions, you can help ensure that old medicine isn’t taken by mistake. Did this article help you? Please spread the word on Facebook about the importance of properly disposing of unused medications.
Injuries From Drug Interactions Deserve Compensation
The truth of the matter is that you increase your risk of drug interactions as the number of pills you take increases. The more over-the-counter and prescription medications you take, the more at risk you are for suffering from a dangerous side effect due to drug interactions.
While doctors and pharmacists know not to give diabetic patients diuretics or beta blockers to those with asthma, sometimes mistakes happen behind the pharmacy counter. For this reason, it is always a good idea to know the name of medication your doctor prescribed and check it against the pill bottle your pharmacist fills. If the name is different, ask the pharmacist. Additionally, have a pharmacist consultation, as it is one of the best ways to reduce your chances of taking medications that can cause drug interactions.
When a pharmacist is filling your prescription, he or she may not realize what other medications you are taking. This is why it is always a good idea to keep a list of your current medications with you, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Be sure to show this list to your pharmacist when picking up your medication.
Because drug interactions can make medications less effective or lead to dangerous side effects, it is very important that you read all of your drug labels carefully. Certain medication labels will have “Drug Interaction Precautions” listed on the label or inform you to avoid eating or drinking certain things that could interact with that drug.
Help prevent others from suffering drug interactions by sharing this information on Twitter.
What Are Pharmacy Boards Doing to Improve Public Safety?
Are Pharmacy Boards Really Investigating Pharmacy Mistakes?
More than likely your claim will be with the pharmacy and pharmacist that caused the pharmacy error and not with the state. Although every state has a State Board of Pharmacy in place to help improve consumer safety and protect customers against pharmacy errors, states often lack the staff and funding to inspect pharmacies on a regular basis.
In fact, most pharmacies aren’t inspected for years, and some pharmacies haven’t been inspected for over a decade. This is because there are really no federal rules that mandate when state inspectors have to inspect pharmacies. Also, since there are usually only a handful of inspectors and thousands of pharmacies, inspection agents aren’t able to make the necessary rounds to protect consumers.
While some states do a better job at keeping tabs on pharmacies, other states lack the oversight to protect pharmacy patients from prescription mistakes made by negligent pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Unfortunately, state boards cannot be held accountable for failing to inspect a pharmacy that caused you harm. The only way to seek justice is to file a lawsuit against the pharmacy that caused you to incur medical bills as a result of the injuries you suffered.
If you are interested in pursuing a claim to make a financial recovery and to hold the negligent party responsible for your injuries, you should learn about your rights. You can learn more about your rights to a pharmacy error lawsuit by requesting a free copy of our book, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.
Beware: Walgreens Pharmacists May Fill Ear Drops Instead of Eye Drops
Child Receives Ear Drops Instead of Eye Drops Due to Pharmacy Error
Yes. Walgreens pharmacists have a duty of care to provide their patients. When they fill the wrong medication—even if it is by mistake—patients have the right to seek financial damages for their injuries and losses. Because eye drops and ear drops sound similar, look similar, and use similar application methods, pharmacists should be more careful in filling these types of prescriptions.
Unfortunately, this type of pharmacy error is common. In fact, it may surprise you to know that many pharmacists have made this type of medication mistake before. This is why it is important that pharmacists double—even triple—check the work of pharmacy technicians and should review every prescription before it leaves the pharmacy. Unfortunately, pharmacists are often busy and overworked, letting mistakes slip by them—allowing medication mix-ups to occur and innocent people suffer.
When an eye injury occurs as a result of a patient receiving ear drops for an eye infection instead of receiving the appropriate eye drops, it can be serious and lead to a permanent injury and vision loss. As a result, a patient may incur unnecessary medical bills and may need time off of work to heal.
If you have suffered physical and financial injuries as a result of a pharmacy error, you are entitled to pursue a financial recovery. To learn more about your rights, you should request a free copy of our book: How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.