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When Pharmacy Errors Cause Harm

Medication2

Have you taken a prescription that was the wrong medicine or dose due to a pharmacy error? If that mistake resulted in serious personal injury, you may be able to recoup damages with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.

Errors do Occur 

While it is no comfort to someone who has experienced drastic effects for medication errors, the fact is that pharmacies are busy places and pharmacists are humans who are not immune to mistakes. Some estimates put the number of prescription errors at somewhere between one and five percent, in fact. The most potential problems are:

  • Incorrect directions printed on the label;
  • Dosage mistakes;
  • Medicines with similar sounds and/or spellings inadvertently being substituted for the correct prescriptions;
  • Patient mix-ups;
  • Drug interactions that go unnoticed by the pharmacist.

Most Common Errors 

Certain medications have a higher risk of error and consequent harm to patients. That being said, pharmacists should be aware of these high-risk potentials, and take safeguards to prevent them. The “high alert” medicines include:

  • Insulin, dispensed in the wrong dosage;
  • Antipsychotics, dispensed in the wrong dosage;
  • Antibiotics, when the wrong medicine is dispensed;
  • Opioids, where nearly half of errors are dosing instructions and 39 percent were the wrong drug altogether.

Reasons for Errors 

A number of factors may impact prescription errors:

  • Illegible prescriptions;
  • Insufficient information related to co-prescribed medicines;
  • Complex dosage regimens;
  • Mishearing when prescriptions are transmitted orally;

Harm from Prescription Errors 

Research indicates that at least 1.5 million individuals are harmed and roughly 7,000 deaths occur due to prescription errors annually in this country. Morbidity and mortality costs related to prescription errors cost $77 billion every year. Medication errors are defined as preventable events related to practices, products, and systems that cause harm to patients. Negligence related to these accidents hinges on certain key factors:

  • A duty of care exists for the pharmacist;
  • That duty of care was breached;
  • Proximate harm was caused to the patient as a result of that breach.

Damages 

When patients experience severe consequences related to pharmacy errors, they may be eligible to receive compensation for related medical costs, disability, earnings losses, and pain and suffering. In certain cases punitive damages may be awarded to punish liable parties who were grossly negligent.

How to Avoid Errors 

Patients would be wise to take some simple steps when filling prescriptions:

  • Know medication names and indications;
  • Read information sheets the pharmacist provides;
  • aware of expiration dates, storage information, and dosing requirements;
  • Ask about potential drug interactions and/or warnings.

After a Pharmacy Mistake 

If you are the victim of a pharmaceutical error and experience significant injuries, the Brooklyn, New York legal team at the Law Offices of David J. Hernandez & Associates can help. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

Resources:

health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2014/07/03/how-to-deal-with-prescription-mistakes

amcp.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=9300

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