No one is ever really immune to making mistakes—even pharmacists. Unfortunately, pharmacists make many errors when dispensing medications. While some mistakes are caught in time and corrected before medications reach customers, other medication-related errors actually cause patients harm. Sadly, there are approximately 7,000 fatalities in this nation every year as a result of adverse drug events.
One of the main reasons why pharmacy errors occur is due to the time constraints pharmacists are under. They are constantly busy, interrupted, and working long hours. Now that they are moving towards offering more healthcare services such as vaccinations, cholesterol testing, and taking on more patient health responsibility, the concern is that more services will add to more medication mistakes.
Not only do wrong medications and incorrect dosages get into patients’ hands from time to time, but pharmacists have been known to dispense drugs that contradict a medication a patient is already taking. For example, a doctor could have prescribed a dangerous drug mixture because he failed to look at the current medications a patient is taking. Although the physician signed off on a prescription without realizing the harmful side effects, a pharmacist should be the second line of defense.
The Importance of Looking Over All Current Medications
Pharmacists know that a patient shouldn’t be taking statins and antivirals together due to negative side effects. This is why pharmacists need to inspect customers’ current medications against new prescriptions to determine if there are inherent dangers of the prescribed medicine. If they fail to do this, a person can suffer serious injuries and even death.
This is why almost all 50 states in our nation have regulations that cover pharmacists’ responsibilities to patients. For example, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (OBRA), states that pharmacists need to maintain patient profiles for Medicaid customers to determine all the medications those patients are taking. This helps pharmacists protect patients from harmful drug interactions. While this law only applies to Medicaid patients, most states have similar laws that apply to all dispensing of prescriptions.
Pharmacists have a duty of care and need to follow the standards of practices in place to minimize patient harm. When they fail to do this and breach the duty of care, patients can suffer injuries and even fatalities—leading to claims of malpractice. If you have been harmed as a result of conflicting medications, you may have a pharmacy malpractice lawsuit. Learn more about your rights and how to hold a pharmacy accountable for your damages here in our free book, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.