Injuries Caused By Pharmacy Errors

Whether you are a patient in a hospital or someone who is treating a health condition at home, if you have been prescribed medication, you are at risk for being harmed by a pharmacy error. Injuries caused by pharmacy errors can be serious and even fatal. It is estimated that nearly a hundred thousand people die and over a million people are injured each year as a result of errors involving medication.

Pharmacists Owe Customers a Duty of Care

You probably know that doctors and other medical professionals must provide services to their patients which meet or exceed a professional standard of care. Pharmacists, whether they work in a hospital setting or in a pharmacy in the community, must also meet a professional standard of care in performing their work. A pharmacist is not someone who merely reads prescriptions, places the prescribed medications into containers, hands them to patients, and sends them on their way. Pharmacists must use professional judgment when filling prescriptions, and should take measures to ensure that they are providing the correct medications in the proper doses to the patients.

Types of Pharmacy Errors

When a patient brings a prescription to the pharmacy, the pharmacist may have trouble reading the name of the drug, the dosage, or both. When a prescription is hard to read, the pharmacist has a choice to make. They can choose to follow a professional standard of care and call the doctor to find out what the prescription says. Alternatively, they could choose to deviate from the standard of care and fill the prescription based upon what they think that it says. This course of action is not only dangerous, it is negligent because it could result in the patient getting the wrong medication or the wrong dose.

Pharmacy errors can also occur when pharmacists refill prescriptions, and when they counsel (or fail to counsel) patients about how to use their medications properly. Some prescription drugs can cause serious injury or illness if they are used at the same time as other medications, so pharmacists must also be on the lookout for situations in which dangerous combinations of medications may occur.

What Can Happen if a Patient Gets the Wrong Medication

An eighty year old Maine woman was prescribed a specific cancer medication by her oncologist. The pharmacist at Wal-Mart filled her prescription with a different cancer medication which is more powerful than the one that she was prescribed.

The woman read the instructions which came with the medication and assumed that she had the proper drug. She began taking it as directed, and within a week of starting to take it, she began to experience some side effects. She had follow up blood work twenty three days after she started the medication. The next day, her doctor advised her to stop taking the medication immediately because her blood test results were abnormal. Later that day, she was admitted to the hospital for internal bleeding. Her hospital stay was a painful five weeks, and it resulted in medical bills of seventy thousand dollars as well as additional blood transfusions and continuing medical problems. She pursued a claim for damages against the pharmacy, and a jury awarded her $550,000.00 for her injuries. Walter v. Wal-Mart, 2000 Me 63

Peter Thompson & Associates: Helping Pharmaceutical Error Injury Victims Across Maine

If you have been injured or someone that you love has been killed as a result of an error involving medication, the personal injury attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates are here to assist you. With offices in Portland, Bangor, and Falmouth, our dedicated team of professionals is easily accessible to clients throughout the state of Maine. Please call us today at 1 800.804.2004 to schedule your free initial consultation.

Client Reviews
I feel I was treated with respect and was always 'kept in the loop' of what was happening throughout this process. I felt that I could ask any question and always receive an honest and professional response. K.L., Lewiston
Although this has been a difficult time, you have made this much easier by your thoughtfulness and professionalism. M.W., Portland
I would like to thank you for all your help, and taking the time to help me understand things. T.C., South Portland
I am very satisfied with the great people at [your office]. Especially Wendy Clark and Mrs. Mann. Very happy, very pleased. Thank you. D.M., Arundel
I was pleased with the level of professionalism and the effectiveness of your team. This was my first exposure to 'a case' and you made the process easy for me. M.D., Kittery
My brother is an attorney in New York. After my accident 2 years ago I asked him what firm I should go with. He researched and told me to call Peter Thompson and Associates. I followed his recommendation and am glad I did. From the opening bell they were timely, informative, professional AND WARM. Thank you. R.S., South Portland, ME