Pharmaceutical negligence is when the pharmacist gives the patient the wrong medication or improper dosage. One simple mistake can cause severe injury, complications, and even death. When we use medical services, we expect a certain level of care, and medical personnel has a duty to provide that care. Not just pharmacists but also doctors, nurses, emergency medical staff, and anyone who provides you with health care services. But anytime people are involved there’s a chance a mistake can be made.
Doctors and pharmacists work together to ensure a patient is properly cared for. If there’s a lack of communication or a misunderstanding between your healthcare provider and the pharmacy, problems can lead to improperly filled prescriptions or improper dosages. Problems can also happen if the pharmacist doesn’t listen to the patient which could result in a mistake.
To fully understand pharmaceutical negligence it’s always best to speak to an attorney that practices this area of law. Negligence cases require proof such as the pharmacist’s duty, the breach of that duty, and the result of injury or harm. While pharmacists primarily dispense medications as ordered by doctors and medical staff, they are still required to ensure proper care and treatment of their customers.
What Qualifies as Negligence?
There are four basic considerations when trying to determine negligence. They are:
- Duty of care
- A breach of that duty
Duty of Care
This is the responsibility of medical staff to provide reasonable and competent care to their patients. They should take good care of you and make sure you’re getting the treatment you need, but also the treatment required by their professional obligations.
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty is when a mistake is made or when a medical professional fails to perform their responsibilities. Courts will often compare the standard of care given by other healthcare providers under the same circumstances. In the case of pharmaceutical negligence, we have to ask if the pharmacist gave you the wrong type of medication or an incorrect dosage. We might also ask if the pharmacist considered all possible side effects and drug interactions. Did they explain the potential adverse side effects that could result from taking a particular type of medication?
In order to prove damages, the patient must show that a mistake was made which led to those damages. The mistake could have resulted in illness, injury, or death. The mistake could also have led to more treatment and lost work or wages. Damages can be physical but also, financial, and emotional.
Courts will often decide, after collecting all the necessary information including medical records and patient histories, whether or not a person has been harmed as a result of a mistake. If there is or was a mistake, the pharmacist or doctor could be held liable in a case of pharmacy malpractice.
Mistakes aren’t always the result of getting the wrong medication. Sometimes bad reactions occur which cause negative side effects. Pharmacists should always advise you of potential side effects and drug interactions that could cause problems due to your medical history.
A patient has to prove that the mistake by the pharmacist or medical professional was the direct cause of the damages they suffered. Healthcare providers could claim that the damages were the patient’s fault or the result of a pre-existing medical condition. This is another reason it’s important to have and collect all your medical records so an attorney along with medical experts can review them.
Types of Pharmaceutical Negligence
One of the most common forms of pharmaceutical negligence is the result of a pharmacist not explaining the long-term side effects of the medication prescribed to the customer. The customer may not fully understand or know that there are potentially dangerous risks associated with taking a particular medication. These risks can result in more medical problems or long-term injury and illness.
The other most common form of pharmaceutical negligence is giving the patient or customer the wrong medication. This can result from an actual mistake or misunderstanding of the doctor’s instructions. If care isn’t taken when reviewing medical records and patient histories something important could be missed that causes an error in proving the right medication. This type of carelessness can cause the wrong dosage or type of medicine to be administered to the patient.
There are also rare occasions where a pharmacist will give a patient contaminated or defective drugs. While this doesn’t happen often, it usually results from a recalled or improperly tested medication. This type of medication can be dangerous to the patient.
Time Is a Factor
One thing that must always be considered is what attorneys refer to as a statute of limitations. What this means is that there is a time limit depending on the state you live in that you are allowed to file a claim. If you don’t notice the mistake or the injury occurs after a certain amount of time, you may not be able to file a claim. This is why it’s important to speak to an attorney to find out the options available to get you the help you need.
Pharmaceutical negligence is a preventable medical error. Medical care providers have a duty and responsibility to ensure you get the best care and treatment possible. They must be careful and mindful when making decisions about their health. Pharmacists should have tools and systems in place to help prevent mistakes and errors.
Due to the increase in people seeking different medical services, the number of pharmaceutical negligence cases is also growing. It is important to note that the term “medical services” can include treatments in and out of a hospital setting. Your primary care physician is responsible and has a duty to make sure you’re being cared for and getting the proper treatment and medication all the way down the line from nurses to pharmacists.
When that care is neglected or if someone makes a careless mistake, damages and harm can happen that is no fault of yours. It’s also your right to pursue a claim if you believe you or your loved one was hurt or injured as the result of someone else’s mistake. It’s not uncommon for a family member to pursue legal action if they suspect the death of a loved one was due to a mistake in medication or medical treatment.
If you believe that you were hurt or injured as the result of pharmaceutical negligence, speak to an attorney and be sure to bring all the necessary medical and treatment records pertaining to you or your loved ones’ case. Also, remember that there is a time limit to pursue these types of cases. The statute of limitations can vary from state to state.
Lastly, keep in mind that you must show there was a failure to provide the proper duty of care and a breach of that duty. There must also be damages that resulted in injury or harm. You also need to prove that negligence was what directly caused any damages to you or your loved one.
If you find or suspect that a mistake has been made it’s important that you consult with an attorney that understands pharmaceutical negligence and has the skills and experience with these types of cases.
*This post is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.