Pharmacists fill thousands of prescriptions daily. While most pharmacists get it right and fill the correct prescription that the doctor ordered, other pharmacists have been known to get it wrong and cause innocent patients injuries and even death due to their pharmacy errors.
Some of the most common areas of pharmacy malpractice, in order of frequency according to a Pharmacists Mutual study, include:
- Wrong Drug: The reasons pharmacists hand out wrong drugs are varied, but one thing is certain—wrong drugs are the number one cause of pharmacy malpractice. Problems that contribute to this include pharmacists getting distracted, multitasking, switching labels, taking the wrong bottle from the shelf, misreading the doctor’s prescription, or filling a prescription with another drug that looks similar. If the wrong drug is taken, a patient could suffer serious organ damage and even heart failure.
- Wrong Strength of Drug: Wrong dosages are the second largest cause of pharmacy malpractice claims. This occurs when a pharmacist fills the right drug but the wrong dose of that drug. This could happen due to the misplacement of a decimal point or mistaking milligrams for milliliters. When pharmacists accidentally fill the wrong strength of a drug, it can be dangerous or even fatal.
- Wrong Directions: Wrong directions can get placed on a medication label by someone entering the wrong directions into the computer. When pharmacists fail to check the newly created label against the prescription, serious health problems could result.
- Lack of Drug Review: This requires pharmacists to check all patients’ prescriptions for interactions and allergies before filling them. When drugs aren’t checked, it could result in a patient suffering from an allergic reaction or other serious interactions that could be fatal.
- Failure to Properly Counsel Patients on Medication Usage: It should be standard that pharmacists counsel every patient; however, most only counsel patients when asked. If a pharmacist was to pull the prescription out of the bag and counsel patients every time, it could reduce pharmacy errors as mistakes would likely be caught during this time.
Pharmacy errors that result from confusion between drugs with similar names, miscommunication, poor handwriting, misplaced decimal points, failure to check the drug, or failure to counsel the patient can cause patients serious harm. Patients who have been injured by negligent pharmacists, or loved ones who have lost a family member due to a medication error, should speak with a knowledgeable pharmacy malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
It doesn’t take a lawyer to figure out that drug mishaps are nothing new. However, a lawyer can help you figure out your rights under a pharmacy malpractice lawsuit. Call Kennedy Hodges, L.L.P. at 888-526-7616 to speak with an experienced pharmacy malpractice lawyer during a free consultation and to request a FREE copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.