Pharmaceutical malpractice (or pharmaceutical negligence) lawsuits are becoming increasingly common. In most cases, someone has to die or suffer injury before a prescription drug is recalled.
In the cases which involve improperly filled prescriptions, there are typically two different kinds of cases:
-A prescription that is prescribed contradicts another prescription that the patient is already taking. Either the pharmacist or the doctor would be liable.
-A pharmacist gives an incorrect medication or an incorrect dosage of the correct medication. Either the pharmacist or the doctor would be liable, depending upon where the error occurred (either in the writing or in the filling).
The pharmacist is one of the most trusted medical professionals in the United States. We rely on pharmacists for the medications that keep us alive and alleviate suffering. These medications can range from simple but powerful pain relievers to sophisticated anti-cancer drugs to the latest treatment of AIDS and HIV. As the population of America continues to age, more and more people will come to rely on the drugs dispensed by their local pharmacy.
According to the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, dispensing errors are a problem on a national level, at a rate of four errors per day in a pharmacy filling 250 prescriptions daily. In a 2003 article, the organization also stated that “an estimated 51.5 million errors occur during the filling of 3 billion prescriptions each year. This figure includes 3.3 million errors of potential clinical importance.”
The reality is that millions of Americans suffer from pharmacy malpractice every day. Even a small mistake by a pharmacist can have disastrous consequences. Modern pharmacies are very complicated and complex. Automated machines and computers are supposed to make going to the pharmacy simpler and easier, however errors still occur and constant vigilance is imperative to save innocent lives.
Faulty prescribing and filling of prescriptions lead to death or injury in a number of ways, including adverse reactions, improper combinations of drug and deprivation of medications essential to patients’ well being. Many prescriptions are filled by unqualified personnel who have no more than a high school education and a limited period of instruction. The prescription is then laid out on the pharmacist’s counter along with the filled bottle, where the pharmacist quickly matches it to the prescription, approves it and then places it in a bag for customer pick up.
In a recent study for the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, 307 hospital pharmacies were asked to fill 10 different drug orders that had killed patients in 1998. Some contained an overdose, and the remainder was for deadly drug combinations. Shockingly, only four of the 307 pharmacies detected all 10 unsafe orders.
Several factors account for the appalling number of Americans killed each year as a result of the faulty prescribing or filling of medications:
-The existence of prescription medications with nearly identical names.
-An increase in the number of medications being prescribed.
-The proliferation of drugs used to treat a single disease or condition.
Pharmacy experts say the biggest problem is the shortage of pharmacists. In a study of 500 pharmacist malpractice claims conducted by Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company, the following types of errors were identified: Wrong Drug Dispensed 52%, Wrong Strength Dispensed 27%, Wrong Directions Given 7.4%, for a total of 86.4% of errors that could have been prevented.
If a pharmacy error led to serious health complications for you or someone you love, it is important that you understand your legal rights. The effects of pharmacy malpractice can be long-lasting and even fatal, affecting the victim’s entire family. An experienced and compassionate attorney can help you and your loved ones fight for justice and security.
Call Ed Bernstein and Associates at 702-240-0000.