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.
Victims of pharmacy errors can collect for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, and disability. Punitive damages aren’t typically awarded in ordinary negligence cases; however, there are some circumstances that would allow a patient to recover for punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages.
Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer, such as the pharmacist, pharmacy, or other party that might be involved. Unfortunately, it is very rare that a patient would be able to collect for punitive damages. This is because a patient would have to show that the pharmacy was motivated by profits or the pharmacist salary is dependent on sales—showing that the pharmacy and pharmacist involved were putting money over their patients’ safety.
Pharmacies shouldn’t be allowed to put profits ahead of patient care, but it happens far too often. Because pharmacies are generally structured as corporations, they tend to operate just as any corporation would in that they emphasize profits over anything else. While it is possible to make the argument that a pharmacist disregarded patient safety because he or she was rushing to fill as many prescriptions as possible in order to make more money, it can be difficult to prove. This is why you will need an experienced attorney on your side.
Attorneys with experience in pharmacy malpractice cases know how to conduct thorough investigations, know which experts to hire, and know how to get you the most compensation possible for your injuries and damages. You can learn more about your rights to a pharmacy malpractice lawsuit by getting a free copy of our book, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.
How Often Do Pharmacy Errors Occur When Doctors Send Handwritten Prescriptions?
While there is no law in place as of yet requiring doctors to use electronic prescriptions, most in the medical field have changed from handwritten prescriptions to electronic prescriptions. This is because electronic prescriptions are thought to help reduce medication errors over handwritten prescriptions.
Although handwritten prescriptions can be messy and ineligible—leaving you and the pharmacist to make guesses as to what the pediatrician prescribed—electronic prescriptions aren’t completely safe either. While there are fewer errors that can occur with electronic prescriptions, mistakes have been made. For example, a doctor could accidentally select the wrong medication name from the drop down menu or the wrong dosage due to a slip of the mouse.
While you can ask your pediatrician to start using electronic prescriptions, his office might not be set up with the correct technology. However, if the office has the computer software required and the capability to send electronic prescriptions to your local pharmacy and the doctor starts using this method of communicating with the pharmacy, it is still in your best interest to ask the pediatrician about the medication he prescribed for your daughter. By getting the brand name, generic name, and dosage information from the doctor, you will be able to determine if the medication is correct or incorrect when you pick it up from the pharmacy.
If a doctor’s messy handwriting or a pharmacy error adversely affected your daughter, you should get your hands on a free copy of our book, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.
Who Has a Hand in Making Medications Safer and Reducing Medicine Errors?
FDA Implements Bar Codes to Reduce Prescription Drug Errors
You probably are aware that medications can lead to harmful side effects and adverse events, which is why every one wishes and hopes that prescriptions will get safer for the general public. Unfortunately, there are many causes of medication errors and many people who still receive the wrong medication or incorrect dosage of drugs at their pharmacies; however, there are ways in which prescriptions are getting safer.
Some of the ways pharmacy prescriptions are becoming safer for patients include:
- Most doctor’s offices have switched from handwritten prescriptions that were hard for pharmacists to read to electronic prescriptions.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are analyzing medication packages and drug names to reduce sound-alike or look-alike drug mistakes.
- Barcode technology is being used at hospitals and pharmacies—even compounding pharmacies—to verify the correct medication is being given out and that patients are less likely to receive the wrong medication.
- Pharmacies are using software to help them flag patients’ allergy issues and drug interactions to minimize pharmacy errors
As you can see above, there are many ways prescriptions errors are being reduced. However, technology and new processes can only do so much to stop a prescription error from occurring. When pharmacists fail to check prescriptions, verify a patient’s age and weight, and review current medications patients are taking, consumers may be at risk for prescription errors.
This is why we recommend that you go to the same pharmacy for all your pills, take the pharmacist up on a consultation, communicate with the pharmacist and ask questions about how and when to take the medication, and thoroughly review any medication before taking it. Please share this information on Google Plus with to help others avoid being a victim of pharmacy error.
What Can Happen When Pharmacists Fill the Wrong Dosage of Drugs
Online pharmacies can sometimes send customers the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of the right medication. Unfortunately, pharmacy errors from Internet pharmacies occur frequently, and you shouldn’t have to pay the price for their lack of organization and wrongdoing. However, if you haven’t suffered any harm or injuries as a result of their mistake, you don’t have grounds to file a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, more and more pharmacy prescription errors are occurring by online pharmacies that do cause harm. When injuries happen as a pharmacy dosage error, you do have a legal right to sue the pharmacy for your damages. With the help of a pharmacy error attorney, you can learn how to claim the full damages you are entitled to under the law. For example, if the pharmacy mistake caused you an emergency room trip, hospital stay, medical expenses, and other doctor’s bills, you are entitled to hold the pharmacy accountable for the full costs that you incurred. Your damages may also include any related expenses you incurred as a result of taking the wrong dosage of drugs, such as the costs of future medical care, lost income, and more.
What Can I Do Now?
For help holding the online pharmacist and Internet pharmacy accountable for the incorrect dosage error that caused you harm, it is essential that you keep the medication the company sent you as well as your credit card statement for the online purchase.
If you want to learn more about your rights, request a free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.
Yes. Although pharmacy consultations are a great way to stop a pharmacy error from occurring—giving a pharmacists one last chance to review the pills in your bottle—you still have rights to pursue a pharmacy error claim. Pharmacists have a duty to care for their patients and double check their work to make sure their patients are getting the correct medications.
When pharmacists fail to carefully check their pharmacy technicians’ work, or if they mix up your pills with another customer’s prescription, you have a right to pursue a pharmacy malpractice claim for your injuries. Some of the damages you may be entitled to after suffering injuries from the wrong medication include compensation for your hospital bills, rehabilitation, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
Taking the wrong medication can be very serious and even fatal. This is why it is critical that you seek justice for what happened and speak up about it to help others avoid getting incorrect medications at their pharmacies.
Although it is always in your best interest to take a pharmacist up on a consultation to review your medication with him or her, you don’t lose your rights to pursue a pharmacy malpractice lawsuit if you choose not to have a consultation. To learn more about your rights, get a free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.
Do Pharmacy Malpractice Cases Settle or Go to Trial?
The Seriousness of Pharmacy Malpractice
Every state has different statute of limitations that restrict a person’s time period from bringing a legal claim against a pharmacy or pharmacist. Typically, the statute of limitations that applies to pharmacy error cases is found under each state’s medical malpractice laws.
In Oklahoma, any lawsuit against a healthcare professional must be filed within two years of the date of your injury. This set time limit starts running on the day of your injury. Once two years pass, the statutory period expires and you can no longer bring a legal claim against the pharmacy or pharmacist involved.
Whether you have suffered harm as a result of receiving the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, you need to file a lawsuit for damages prior to the two-year window. Unfortunately, pharmacists have been known to make transcribing errors, mistake similar sounding drugs for each other, and mix-up patients’ drugs. If you have suffered harm as a result of any of these pharmacy mistakes, you have a right to seek financial compensation.
By pursuing a pharmacy malpractice lawsuit, you will be seeking justice, just compensation, and a remedy to the wrongful conduct that affected you. Because pharmacy error cases can be complex and need to be filed in a timely manner, it is wise to seek legal assistance immediately so that you don’t miss out on your right to file a pharmacy malpractice lawsuit.
If you want to learn more about your rights, get a free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.
Eliminating Dosing Errors: Difference Between Tablespoon and Teaspoon
Avoid Spooning up the Wrong Dose of Medicine
We know it can be difficult for you to give your child medicine with all the different units of measurement such as tablespoons, teaspoons, and milliliters. Unfortunately, pharmacies and doctors don’t make things easier, as they often interchange these measurement units on prescriptions.
In order to reduce your child’s chance of suffering a medication mistake, you should never use tablespoons or teaspoons. Because these names are similar to each other and their abbreviations look almost identical, many parents often confuse one for another. Also, every kitchen spoon is different, which means that you won’t know if you are giving your child too much or too little of the medication he or she needs.
Instead of using tablespoons and teaspoons to measure a child’s dose of liquid medication, it is best to use milliliters. When you are at the doctor’s office, ask your doctor to write the prescription out in milliliters. This will decrease the chance for a medication error. When picking up your child’s prescription from the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to check the milliliters, to make sure it is correct for your child’s age and weight. Additionally, ask them for a syringe or dosing cup that measures in milliliters. Some children’s liquid medication comes with dosing cups or syringes; however, check to make sure the device measures in milliliters and not in another measurement unit.
As a society, we should push to adopt a milliliter-only unit of measurement to help reduce prescription mistakes and drug errors in children. If you agree, please share this information with others on Facebook to help spread the word.
Has the Lack of Oversight Led to Pharmacy Errors?
A state pharmacy board is the organization in each state that is supposed to keep tabs on compounding pharmacies and retail pharmacies. They receive complaints from consumers about different pharmacies and are supposed to open up investigations. Additionally, they are supposed to inspect pharmacies from time to time. However, lack of funding across state boards makes it difficult for them to have enough staff and inspectors to properly provide the necessary oversight needed to protect the public.
Some pharmacies haven’t been inspected in years because state pharmacy boards are often spending their time focusing on pharmacists who are selling narcotics and controlled substances to people without prescriptions. While it is good that state pharmacy boards are cracking down on pharmacists who are a threat to the public’s safety and health and suspending them from practicing, it doesn’t leave pharmacy boards very much time to deal with other pharmacy issues and errors that occur such as:
- Customers getting the wrong medications.
- Patients receiving the wrong dosage of drugs.
- Pharmacists putting wrong directions on labels.
Additionally, pharmacy boards need extra inspectors to be able to monitor compounding pharmacies to make sure they are mixing and customizing drugs in a safe environment. For example, a new law was passed that will give the Massachusetts State Pharmacy Board additional members, and there will be at least one member on the board who has experience in compounding in order to properly monitor compounding pharmacies. While this is a move in the right direction, there are still not enough inspectors to effectively regulate compounding pharmacies and retail pharmacies.
Until then, the public needs to be proactive with their own healthcare. You can do this by keeping a log of your medications, having a pharmacy consultation when picking up your medication, and always asking questions if something doesn’t seem right. If you have been a victim of a pharmacy error, you should still report the incident to your state board of pharmacy, and you should learn about your rights. You can find out about your legal rights by getting a free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.
Who Is Liable for Injuries That Result From Prescription Misfills
When a Walgreens pharmacy error occurs and you are on the receiving end of it, you should definitely hold the pharmacy accountable for your medical bills and any other expenses you incurred as a result of the medication mix-up. Hospital bills can be expensive, and it can be even more frustrating if the pharmacy error caused you to miss out on earning wages. You may be entitled to your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Because it’s not enough to be reimbursed for the expenses you incurred as a result of their error, you should also report their mistake to the state. Every state has an agency that oversees pharmacy errors. You will need to fill out a form and send it in to your State Board of Pharmacy. Once they receive your notice, they will investigate the error. However, you should know that they aren’t going to get involved with you getting reimbursed.
What the State Board of Pharmacy does is document pharmacy errors, review such errors, and make decisions on whether or not to reprimand pharmacies or pharmacists for their medication mistakes. Sometimes, this can involve fining a pharmacy or suspending a Walgreens pharmacist’s license due to the error that occurred.
If you are looking to hold the pharmacy or negligent pharmacist accountable, you will need to speak with a lawyer to help you pursue a pharmacy malpractice claim. You can learn more about these types of lawsuits by requesting a free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.
Who Is Liable for Injuries that Result from Prescription Misfills?
It is great that you pay attention to the pills you are taking and that you are an alert consumer. If you caught the mistake at the pharmacy counter, let the pharmacist know so he or she can rectify the issue and provide you with the correct medication. If you are worried that the same mistake could happen to someone else, you can always speak with the store manager to make sure the incident is documented; you can also write to your state’s pharmacy board or medical board to let them know of the prescription mistake the pharmacy made.
If you are already at home and have discovered that the pills look different than what you were previously taking, you can go online or use your cell phone to browse through a pill-identifier site to determine what pill the pharmacy gave you. Typically, an identifier website looks at the color, shape, size and stamped number on the pills to identify the medication. This will help you to determine if it is a generic of the pill you have been taking or if it is an entirely different medication. When in doubt, it is best to contact the pharmacy to ask questions.
In the occasion that you took the wrong medication supplied to you by the pharmacy and you have been harmed as a result, you should seek immediate medical treatment. During this time, it is important that you keep the prescription bottle in a safe place. You can, of course, call the pharmacy and let them know of their error, but don’t give them back the pill bottle in case you need evidence to pursue a claim for damages.
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