Doctors can be liable for prescription errors, by writing the wrong prescription or wrong dosage, prescribing a drug that interferes with other medications, or failing to explain side effects or drug interactions. But doctors are not the only professionals with exposure to civil liability for prescription errors. Pharmacists can commit malpractice as well.
As reported in the Journal of Nursing Law, pharmacists have an independent duty to protect patients from harm and are required to consult with prescribing physicians to avoid mistakes. While as patients we may rely on the doctor to prescribe the right medicine for us, pharmacists actually have a legal duty to review all prescriptions before filling them, checking for potential problems such as interactions with other medications and drug allergies.
Who’s Minding the Store?
The reality of today’s pharmacy is that prescriptions are often filled by pharmacy technicians, who possess a lesser degree of education and training than licensed pharmacists. Their knowledge of drug interactions, side effects, dosing and other issues is in all likelihood inferior to that of the pharmacist. Regardless of how busy the pharmacy gets, it is the pharmacist’s legal and professional duty to check and approve every prescription filled.
Wrong Drug, Wrong Dosage
Nearly half of all pharmacist mistakes involve delivering the wrong drug, which of all pharmaceutical errors is the one which creates the greatest risk of harm. Filling the prescription at the wrong strength makes up for another quarter of errors. Other mistakes involve giving the wrong directions or counseling errors. The pharmacist is supposed to be competent to answer questions about the medicine you are taking, including when it should be taken and for how long; how it should be taken; food, drinks, other medicines, or activities that should be avoided while taking the medicine; how to store the medicine; and what to do if you miss a dose.
As lay people, we may have no idea whether the pharmacist is supplying us with the correct drug, the correct dosage, or the correct instructions and advice. We rely on these professionals to perform their job conscientiously and competently. Pharmaceutical failures can makes us sicker or cause serious new conditions or even death. If you or a loved one has been the victim of malpractice at the hands of a pharmacist, contact the Law Firm of Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation.