Medical malpractice and personal injury attorney Matt Menzer is deeply familiar with the safety risks tied to medication errors, which, according to a report by the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP), harm at least 1.5 million people every year,
“Medication errors are a very real public health concern,” said Menzer. “Having represented multiple clients in this arena over the years, I’ve seen first-hand the pain, suffering, and long-term damage that can result from medication and pharmacy errors.”
What Are Medication Errors?
A medication error is defined as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer,” according to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives more than 100,000 U.S. reports each year associated with a suspected medication error.
Medication errors can happen during any part of the prescription process, from when a drug is first prescribed to when the patient starts taking the medication. The pharmacy is one of the highest-risk areas where medication errors occur. According to an investigation by the New York Times published 1.31.2020, pharmacy errors come in various forms, and many pharmacists at retail chains across the country are increasingly worried about making mistakes.
Common Dispensing Errors
A dispensing error refers to medication errors linked to the pharmacy or to whatever health care professional dispenses the medication. These include errors of commission (e.g., dispensing the wrong drug, wrong dose or an incorrect entry into the computer system) and those of omission (e.g., failure to counsel the patient, screen for interactions or ambiguous language on a label). According to the AMCP, the three most common dispensing errors are dispensing an incorrect medication, dosage strength or dosage form; miscalculating a dose; and failing to identify drug interactions or contraindications.
Consequences of Medication Errors
Each year in the United States, 7,000 to 9,000 people die because of a medication error. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of other patients experience but often do not report an adverse reaction or other medication complications. The total cost of looking after patients with medication-associated errors exceeds $40 billion each year. In addition to the monetary cost, patients experience psychological and physical pain and suffering because of medication errors that lead to:
- Life threatening emergency
- Birth defect
Do You Have a Pharmacy Medical Malpractice Claim?
Pharmacists are legally responsible for correctly dispensing medication to patients. If they dispense the wrong medicine or an incorrect dosage of a pharmaceutical, it may be considered medical malpractice.
A pharmacist also has the legal duty to consider any harmful interactions a medication may have with another drug a patient is taking. They must consider a patient’s current health condition as well as any known allergies. If they make a significant error that causes serious injury or damages to a patient, they may be held liable.
4 Elements of a Pharmacy Medical Malpractice Claims
A plaintiff must prove the following four elements of a pharmacy malpractice claim:
|1||Duty||The pharmacist had a legal responsibility or duty to that patient|
|2||Breach||The pharmacist failed to meet that duty, i.e., the standard of care|
|3||Causation||The pharmacist breach of the standard of care caused the patient harm|
|4||Damages||The patient suffered injuries and harms that the legal system can address|
If you or someone you love has suffered a serious injury resulting from a medication or pharmacy error in Washington state or Hawaii, contact Menzer Law for a complimentary review of your case.
Disclaimer: This content is written for educational purposes and is intended to provide general information and understanding of the law. The information should not be as a substitute of legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.