Patients should feel safe when they pick up their prescription medication from the local pharmacy. However, pharmaceutical errors are becoming increasingly common and are a leading cause for serious injury to thousands of Americans each year. Pharmacies fill millions of prescriptions in the country each year, and when these errors occur, poisoning, overdose or even death may happen as well.
Common Types of Pharmacy Errors
Pharmacies are required to use precision and care in preparing each prescription drug they give to patients. When they fail to do so, serious and deadly errors can occur. Some of the more common errors that are seen include:
- The patient receives another patient’s prescription medication. This can occur when patients have similar names or when a pharmacy tech is filling two prescriptions at the same time – without verifying patient information.
- Patient is given a medication similar to the one prescribed, but not the same. Prescription medications often have similar names, but different medical purposes. A patient could be prescribed a medication with a similar-sounding name or a similarly spelled name when pharmacy staff are not paying attention to the physician’s instructions carefully – or if the physician’s handwriting is too difficult to read.
- Pharmacist misreads instructions from physician. A physician with handwritten prescriptions has a higher error rate simply because the pharmacist or technician can easily misread that handwriting. Things that can be misread include the prescription name, dosage or special instructions.
- Incorrect dosage. Medications have specific dosing instructions based on a patient’s demographics (i.e. age or weight) and the severity of the condition. Prescribing too little can result in the drug having no effect, while prescribing too much could lead to overdose or serious interactions.
- Medication instructions were incorrect. Some medications must be taken in a specific way in order for them to be effective and safe. Oftentimes a prescription can be filled with the correct medicine and dose, but the administration instructions are incorrect.
Why Pharmacy Errors are Common
Pharmacy errors are increasingly common, especially as large chain stores become the more popular choice for prescriptions in the United States. A few reasons the error rate has increased include insufficient staff training, a staff that is overworked, negligent supervision by the overseeing pharmacist and even an over-reliance on automated systems instead of manually checking prescriptions. While there are reasons, these reasons do not justify or excuse the increase in these serious medical errors.
Assessing Liability in a Pharmacy Error Claim
When someone is injured due to allegations of pharmacy error, the traditional elements of negligence will apply. This means proving that the pharmacist owed the plaintiff a duty of care, then showing that the duty owed was breached. Lastly, the plaintiff will need to show that damages occurred because of that breach (such as an accidental overdose).
Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no obligation case evaluation. Call 866-479-7909 or contact us online to get started.