There are many types of medical malpractice other than physician malpractice. Hospitals and diagnostic centers can also commit malpractice. One type of malpractice that can often be deadly is pharmacy malpractice. Pharmacists fill and distribute the medications you need if you have any type of illness. Sometimes, patients receive a container or package of medications. Other times, the pharmacist may give you a shot or vaccine that contains the medicine you need.
Often, medications work wonders. There are other times, however, when pharmacists and staff make mistakes that can cause death, hospitalization, or severe health consequences. Pharmacists have a duty to fill medications based on the prescriptions from the patient’s physicians. When pharmacists fail to provide the care expected of competent pharmacists, they can be held liable for your pain, suffering, medical expenses, lost income, and, in tragic cases, the wrongful death of a loved one.
How often does pharmacy malpractice occur?
- More than four out of every five adults take at least one medication, and 29% take five or more medications.
- Adverse drug effects result in nearly 1.3 million visits to the emergency room and 350,000 hospitalizations each year.
- Adverse drug events are likely to increase due to the development of new drugs, our aging population, expansion of insurance coverage, and other causes.
What are the common causes of pharmacy malpractice?
Pharmacists and their staff need to be especially careful when filling out prescriptions from a physician. Common pharmaceutical mistakes include:
- Dispensing the wrong drugs. Pharmacists should understand exactly what type of medication they are preparing. Giving a patient the wrong drug can be fatal or have catastrophic consequences. These days, drugs are labeled with codes. If the wrong code is used, the wrong drug will be prepared. Pharmacists may also dispense the wrong drug if they misread the physician’s instructions, mix up a patient’s prescription with another patient, or prescribe a drug with a similar name to the one they should be preparing. Many drugs have similar-sounding names. A pharmacist may give the wrong drug even if the codes are correct and labels are clear, just by selecting the wrong medication because they are distracted or doing too many tasks at once.
- Incomplete or missing instructions. Patients need to understand when and how often they should take their medications. They need to know if there are any restrictions, such as not taking the drug with certain foods, alcohol, or other substances. Special instructions may be required for pregnant women. The instructions on the label should be clear. Pharmacists need to review the labels and the up-to-date label requirements for each medication they prescribe. The medication instructions should also include any known warnings about possible adverse side effects.
- Preparing the wrong dosage. Pharmacists must ensure they give the patient the correct dosage for the type of drug they are dispensing. Dosage failures may be due to faulty instructions from the physician, mathematical errors, failure to comply with pharmacy standards, or other causes.
- Possible dangerous interactions. Pharmacists need to check a patient’s medication history, because each drug interacts with other drugs in different ways – some of which can be fatal or cause serious harm. Pharmacists also need to know if the patient has any allergies or has experienced any adverse reactions to any of the medications being prescribed.
What injuries can result from pharmacy malpractice in Chicago?
In the most tragic cases, a patient can die if they take the wrong medication or in the wrong time or in the wrong quantities. Other possible injuries due to medication errors include:
- Birth defects
- Heart disorders or attacks
- Vision loss
- Brain damage
- Allergic reactions such as a rash, itching, swelling, and breathing difficulties
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Damage to internal organs
Some adverse reactions may be immediate. Other reactions may not occur for days, weeks, months, or even years.
Who is liable when medications fail?
There are normally three possible defendants when medications fail:
- The pharmacist. A pharmacist may be liable for any of the types of negligence discussed above – dispensing the wrong drug, instruction errors, the wrong dosage, and not checking for dangerous interactions.
- The doctor. A physician may be liable if they prescribed the wrong drug or dosage for your disease or health disorder, or failed to properly research the drug.
- The manufacturer. There have been many cases where the manufacturer of a defective drug has been held liable for the deaths and harm their medications cause. If drugs are defective, the manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of the drugs may be held strictly liable of their products affect the health of a patient. Some drugs that have been the subject of litigation and/or recalls in the past include:
At Gainsberg Law P.C., our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers work with experienced pharmacists and medication experts who understand when other pharmacists acted incompetently and when medications are defective. We demand compensation for all your economic and non-economic losses. Our Cook County lawyers have been fighting for patients and accident victims for more than 20 years. To speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, call us at 312.600.9585 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.
Neal S. Gainsberg has spent the last 20 years fighting to protect the rights of the injured in Chicago and throughout Illinois. From consumer rights and bankruptcy to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, Mr. Gainsberg stands up to large corporations, insurance companies, creditors and hospital administrators to ensure that his clients’ futures are safe and secure. Learn More