Who is Responsible When Pharmacy Mistakes Lead to Injury and Death?

by Apr 15, 2021Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death

Who is Responsible When Pharmacy Mistakes Lead to Injury and Death?

by Apr 15, 2021Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death

Who is Responsible When Pharmacy Mistakes Lead to Injury and Death_
Who is Responsible When Pharmacy Mistakes Lead to Injury and Death_

Mistakes in medication claim between 7,000 and 9,000 lives annually. The price tag for these errors exceeds $40 billion, with seven million patients suffering the effects.

It should not seem surprising that pharmacy mistakes lead to injury and death. Consider that there are at least 6,800 different medicines, and constantly evolving medical advances will add to that number. The wrong use, type, or strength of any of these medicines can create a number of serious adverse reactions, cause unusual behaviors or aggravate pre-existing problems.

Below, we identify the types of pharmacy and medication mishaps and those who may bear responsibility for the resulting harms.

Mistakes in Filling a Prescription

Pharmacists can be held liable for simply failing to follow directions. This happens when a pharmacist does not correctly read or understand the prescription from the doctor. Often, a pharmacist may plead the poor handwriting of the doctor. It’s such a claim is made, a Florida medical malpractice attorney can ask why the pharmacist did not contact the doctor.

Mistakes that arise from the failure to follow the prescription include giving too many pills or not enough, the incorrect dosage, or even the wrong type of medication. A pharmacist who does not correctly interpret symbols or abbreviations from the doctor may give a prescription that seems similar but is drastically different from what was prescribed.

In some cases, the pharmacist may ignore the doctor’s prescription. For instance, we might show that the pharmacist provided a greater supply than was prescribed by the doctor. Such actions might lead a patient to receive more pain medication than is appropriate. Perhaps the doctor wanted to limit the volume or supply because of concerns that the patient may become addicted to the painkillers were other medicines.

The pharmacist or pharmacy technician may also have mislabeled the medicine bottle or container. When this happens, a patient is taking either the wrong product or an incorrect dose. The patient might take the medicine too frequently or not frequently enough.

Mistakes by the Physician in Prescribing Medication

Medication mistakes often do not lie solely at the feet of the pharmacist. When someone sustains serious injuries or dies from medication mistakes, we may look to whether the physician committed malpractice by prescribing the wrong medicine in the first place.

In Florida, the physician must exercise a standard of care in the particular community of practice. At a minimum, physicians are expected to adequately obtain patient histories, thoroughly examine the patient, and accurately and properly diagnose the condition. In particular, not having the patient’s medical history may cause the physician to prescribe medicines that cause allergic or other adverse reactions. Similar problems can arise when the doctor prescribes medication that is either too strong or not strong enough or does not address the problem.

The assistance of a Florida medical malpractice attorney becomes crucial in ensuring a physician for malpractice. To successfully pursue your claim, you need a physician who can testify that the doctor failed to follow the proper standard of care in prescribing the medication for you. This involves a considerable examination of your medical records and history.

Lapses in Judgment by the Pharmacist

Pharmacy mistakes lead to injury and death when a pharmacist fails to exercise care in determining whether to fill a prescription. Increasingly, Florida courts have imposed upon pharmacists the legal obligation to decline to honor a prescription when filling it is not reasonable under the circumstances. In this regard, pharmacists are held to a standard of exercising professional judgment to assess whether a dosage, quantity, or type of drug is appropriate for the user.

With the opioid crisis in recent years, attention turns to patients receiving excessive numbers of prescription refills. If you or a loved one has become addicted to or suffered serious harm from opioids, the pharmacist may face responsibility for not having determined that the prescriptions were not reasonable.

Failing to Warn About the Risks

Florida law has moved away from an absolute rule that pharmacists need not warn patients of the risks of particular drugs. As part of the duty of reasonable care, pharmacists must determine in his or her professional judgment if the circumstances warrant warnings about prescriptions. The duty to warn may arise especially when a patient has presented an excessive number of prescriptions in a brief time span.

The duty to provide warnings of risks also falls to drug manufacturers. However, in Florida, that duty flows from the manufacturer to the physician — not the patient directly. Even so, you might
suffer serious health problems when your doctor prescribes medication without knowing the potential adverse effects.

Your claim against the manufacturer might arise when you initially pursue your doctor, only to have the physician successfully argue that the physician did not get adequate warnings of the side effects. You may even also pursue a manufacturer who may have falsely advertised the product to you or the physician and you relied upon the misrepresentations.

Wrongly Administering Medications

Medication errors arise from a nurse, physician, CNA, or other healthcare worker delivering the wrong medicine or doing so in the wrong way. These parties may be accountable for not following the orders of the physician with regard to the medication.

For instance, you may have the wrong type of medicine or the wrong dosage. Mistakes in administration also include either not giving the medicine enough time to be delivered or delivering it too much. You might see this with the intravenous administration period.

Vicarious Liability

When we consider responsible parties, we don’t stop with the actual actors such as the pharmacists, physicians for nurses. These professionals are often working in the course and scope of their employment with another entity. The employer can be held responsible under the theory of vicarious liability.

To that end, our personal injury lawyers will look to the pharmacy retailer, hospital, or clinic that employed the negligent pharmacist. Hospitals also face vicarious liability due to the actions of their physicians, nurses, and others on their staff that failed to exercise reasonable care. Mistakes in the administration of medicines may also occur in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

Pharmacy mistakes lead to injury and death. These errors by pharmacists and others in the health field are often the result of neglect and the want of due care. If you or a family member have suffered from a medication mistake, let us help you pursue compensation for pain, suffering, injuries, and economic losses. A Florida medical malpractice attorney will work to identify the responsible parties and carry your case from negotiation and, if need be, to trial.

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