Pharmacists provide valuable services to patients, whether they work in a hospital or community stores. They fill a prescription for medication, examine the patient’s drug therapy record, prepare compounded drugs, and dispense the medication.
They also offer counseling on the amount of medication for patients to treat their health conditions. However, pharmacists who miss this step are negligent and should be held accountable for any harm or pain and suffering they cause their patients and their families.
Errors can occur in drug preparation, dispensing, and failure to examine the patient’s drug therapy record for previous adverse reactions and signs of drug abuse. Pharmacy errors may also happen in remote prescription processing centers that deliver through the mail, retail stores, and hospital pharmacies.
Regardless of location, the pharmacy provider should thoroughly evaluate the prescription drug histories of all patients. Pharmacists may also be held liable for mistakes made by pharmacy technicians and other staff members acting under their supervision.
A pharmacy mistake leads to an adverse drug reaction. These reactions can cause significant injury, illness and even death. As a medical professional, a licensed pharmacist who violates state or federal laws or deviates from the standard of care can be held accountable through a medical malpractice claim.
The medical malpractice lawyers with Nessler & Associates can evaluate your case and work with various medical experts to help you recover a fair financial settlement. The compensation you receive can cover your damages and help you move on with your life.
Pharmacy Malpractice Errors
Pharmacy malpractice occurs when a pharmacist fails to meet professional standards in carrying out their responsibilities. A licensed pharmacist can make a wide range of medication errors that lead to adverse drug reactions, from failing to complete a drug regimen review to the erroneous dispensing of drugs. These errors can endanger a patient’s life, resulting in serious injury or death.
Dispensing the wrong medication or wrong dosage occurs in 18.4% of medical malpractice claims. Incorrect dosage can cause an adverse reaction if the patient gets too much or not enough, such as allergic reactions, infections, and heart failure.
Dosage errors can occur when the pharmacy provider misplaces or omits the decimal while writing a prescription. This error increases or decreases the strength of drug efficacy by a factor of ten.
For instance, if the provider forgot to add a decimal for a medication such as 20 milligrams instead of 2.0 milligrams, the pharmacist may read it at 20 milligrams.
Failure to Read Prescriptions
Instructions for drug administration include abbreviations such as QID (four times a day) and QD (once a day). Unfortunately, pharmacists can misinterpret the abbreviations used on a prescription for medication. They might also have trouble deciphering poor handwriting in a prescription.
If they do not contact the prescribing health care provider for clarification, misreading a prescription can result in severe consequences such as a heart attack or fatality.
A pharmacy provider makes an error when they fail to exercise professional judgment when questioning an improper prescription. They should always contact the prescriber and work together to determine a reasonable dose for that patient.
Failure to Check Patient Records
Sometimes pharmacists fail to check the patient’s drug therapy record or medication history for signs of drug abuse, allergies, or other potential therapy contraindications.
Fulfillment of medication orders on a busy day might cause the pharmacist to dispense the wrong strength of drug or one with a different route of administration than the original prescription.
Improper Storage of Medications
The improper storage of drugs can shorten their shelf life or make them ineffective. Pharmacies sometimes provide family services, such as immunizations, to provide better access to individual health care.
Errors that can occur include improper storage of vaccines and inadequate cleaning before administration of injections. Vaccines and any other pharmaceutical product that must be refrigerated, for example, cannot be used after being stored at the wrong temperature.
While the initial administration of a medication that causes an adverse reaction cannot be prevented, subsequent administration can. These reactions are listed in the patient’s medication history, which a pharmacy worker should examine when filling every prescription.
Failing to Educate Patients About Their Prescriptions
Pharmacists must communicate with patients effectively so they can understand their medication and how it should be taken correctly. These conversations can address the patient’s concerns about the drug’s effect on their health, such as the risk of long-term antipsychotic medications to cardiovascular health. They may also advise you to not drive after taking a medication that will make you drowsy so you won’t get into a car accident.
They also allow the pharmacist to manage drug interactions, such as drinking herbal tea or the impact on birth control absorption. Inadequate communication between the patient and the pharmacist during a hectic shift can lead to serious consequences such as an overdose or adverse drug reaction.
You can work with the skilled personal injury attorneys at Nessler & Associates if you believe you experienced pharmacy negligence and suffered injuries. We have extensive experience holding negligent health care providers responsible for their mistakes.
Consequences of Pharmacy Error
The dispensing of drugs requires careful attention to detail. Giving the wrong pharmaceutical product, dosage strength, or dosage form can lead to an adverse reaction. These reactions can include severe allergic reactions, dangerous changes in heart rate or rhythm, increased or decreased blood pressure, and changes in blood sugar.
The fulfillment of medication orders must be done carefully. Dispensing the wrong medication or dose can also lead to toxicity or failure to control symptoms adequately. In one study, over 57.9% of pharmacy errors leading to death involved dispensing the wrong dose.
When a pharmacy provider fails to identify contraindications, or reasons the patient should not receive a particular medication, it can lead to devastating consequences. For example, some drugs cause congenital disabilities when pregnant women take them. Some decongestants can harm people with high blood pressure, worsening their health condition.
There are medications that interact with others, decreasing their effectiveness or placing the patient in a dangerous situation. For example, taking some blood thinners with antibiotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can increase the risk of severe bleeding.
Failure to educate patients can lead to an unwanted pregnancy, a severe adverse reaction between medications and supplements, and poor absorption of medicine due to diet.
The dispensing of addictive medications to patients with a known history of drug abuse can lead to overdose deaths. Participation in drug tracking systems can prevent these incidents. This negligence might result in the loss of a pharmacist license, criminal charges, and civil penalties.
Vaccine administration errors could lead to a lack of protection against the disease, injection site reaction, or infection. Infections can cause severe illness, disability, and death if not identified and treated promptly.
If a loved one passes away due to a possible drug adverse reaction, the personal injury and wrongful death team with Nessler & Associates has experience with direct negligence lawsuits. We can examine your medical records and pharmacy charges with the help of experts to search for signs of a pharmacy mistake.
State Laws and Federal Regulations
State and federal governments have passed many laws and regulations to protect patient health, including who can access protected health information and tracking the purchase of non-prescription drugs used in the preparation of drugs for street use. They also require pharmacists to review medication history and ensure safe storage of medications.
The Illinois Pharmacy Practice Act describes actions pharmacists must take to protect patients. These medication therapy management services include a comparison between the prescriptions of physicians and advanced practice providers and the patient medication records to search for identifiable health concerns. It also prohibits anyone from practicing as a pharmacy provider without a pharmacist license.
The State Board of Pharmacy within the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation handles regulatory matters regarding the distribution of medication. The board issues requirements for licensure for the practice of pharmacy.
To become a licensed pharmacist, applicants must provide their education records from an accredited college of pharmacy. To maintain a pharmacist license, practitioners must complete 30 hours of continuing education every 2 years.
State law restricts public access by requiring secure storage of drugs when the pharmacist is absent. This requirement prevents the unlawful distribution of medication. The law also requires patients leaving the hospital to receive unused facility-provided medication for which they have been charged.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the implementation of prescription drug tracking systems can help pharmacists and other health care providers identify patients at risk of opioid use disorder and overdose. These programs track patient medication records for drugs susceptible to abuse.
Pharmacy participation in drug tracking programs is crucial to preventing catastrophic health conditions such as overdoses, organ failure, and HIV. Implementing prescription drug utilization reviews has also led to a decline in medication errors.
The federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act requires all pharmacy providers to perform a thorough evaluation of a prescription for medication against each patient’s individual health care record to avoid adverse drug reactions. The use of pharmacy technicians to handle dispensing of medications and educating patients in pharmacies means many of these reviews do not occur.
Nessler & Associates can help you hold pharmacists accountable when they violate these laws or regulations. These violations constitute negligence and give you cause for a case when a pharmacy mistake leads to injury, illness, or death.
Chain and Independent Pharmacies
Better communication could protect patient health in a retail or other non-hospital pharmacy. Some pharmacies pose a greater risk to the public than others, including the large chain pharmacies. Many pharmacists in chain pharmacies feel they do not have the time and help to perform all their duties, including patient education, which can make the distribution of medication dangerous.
Staff shortages in chain stores mean the pharmacist must review the medication history, handle the preparation of drugs, and screen people buying some non-prescription drugs. They must also act as a cashier in addition to offering medication therapy management services.
The implementation of prescription drug tracking systems to increase sales might give patients more medication than they need and contribute to dependence or addiction. These programs can contact prescribers to request a refill without the patient’s direction, knowledge, or consent. These programs were developed to sell a commercial product and maximize pharmacy charges instead of improving individual health care.
Independent pharmacies do not face the same corporate pressure for productivity as chain stores. Consequently, pharmacists can review patient medication records, call the prescribing physicians to question a possible drug interaction, and provide guidance using non-prescription drugs.
These pharmacy providers can still make mistakes that result in the delivery of medications that harm their patients, especially if they fail to check the medication history and ask about other health conditions. These mistakes put their pharmacist license in jeopardy.
To prove that a pharmacist committed medication therapy negligence, your pharmacy error lawyer must show that any other pharmacist exercising reasonable judgment would have acted differently under similar circumstances. Pharmacy charges and other records can help us determine who is liable for your suffering.
For example, a pharmacist may exercise reasonable judgment to detect fraudulent prescriptions by questioning why a podiatric physician would prescribe sedatives or drugs with street value. Participating in drug tracking programs can help pharmacists detect fraud when patients bring forged doctors’ prescriptions.
The medical malpractice and wrongful death attorneys with Nessler & Associates can search the pharmacist’s license file to determine if there is a pattern of negligence and ensure they possess the current education and licensing requirements.
Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help
Patients should trust pharmacists with the fulfillment of medication orders for their health and well-being. At Nessler & Associates, we address the professional negligence of pharmacists and other health care providers in Arlington Heights in Cook County and throughout Illinois.
Whether a pharmacy provider failed to educate you during remote prescription processing or gave you the wrong pharmaceutical product, we highly recommend you pursue compensation. Pharmacy error cases are considered negligent medical malpractice.
We have been protecting victims of direct negligence for more than 40 years. Like all our personal injury and medical malpractice cases, our law firm handles medication errors involving pharmacies on a contingency fee basis because we believe every victim deserves skilled legal representation.
This means we never charge a fee unless we recover damages for you to pay your medical bills, cover your lost wages and any other costs that are part of your claim.
Call the malpractice attorneys with Nessler & Associates at (800) 727-8010 to schedule a no-obligation complimentary consultation. When you hire our law firm, you can rest assured that you are hiring esteemed Illinois legal bar members who are experienced at winning multi-million dollar settlements on behalf of our clients.