Pharmacy / Prescription Error: When a Patient Receives the Wrong Medication

Unfortunately, one of the more common type of cases that our office handles is one in which a pharmacy or pharmacist has mistakenly provided a customer with the wrong medication, causing that customer to suffer a serious reaction leading to hospitalization and injury.  All too often, we patients take for granted that we hand a pharmacist or pharmacist's technician our prescription form (or it is called in from a doctor's office), that prescription will be filled properly.  Unfortunately, and especially with the large chain pharmacies, prescription error cases are not isolated events anymore.  In fact, as attorneys for the injured, we are often able to use evidence of prior errors to show a jury that although a particular corporation knew that its pharmacists were committing errors when filling a prescription, it failed to remedy the situation or install safeguards to prevent further occurrences.  It should be pointed out, however, that although the liability seems cut and dry when a patient ends up with the wrong medication, these pharmacies defend these cases vigorously.  Often times, the pharmacists claim that they did not misfill the prescription; and instead, argue that the patient or family member caring for the patient mixed up prescriptions, sometimes with their own.  To combat these defenses, our attorneys get the pharmacies to admit that they carried the "misfilled" medication at the time that it was put in our client's bottle and that at the same time they were filling our client's prescription they were filling other patients' prescriptions for the medication that mistakenly ended up in our client's bottles. 

Medication errors generally fall into one of several categories:  prescription errors, dispensing errors, medication administration errors and/or patience compliance errors.  Generally speaking, all hospitals and pharmacists should have in place organization systems for administering, ordering, and dispensing medications.   For example, before dispensing a medication in a non-emergency setting, a pharmacist should review an original copy of the written medication order and participate in a self checking process in reading prescriptions, labeling the prescription and dosage calculations.   Pharmacists should never guess or assume the intent of a confusing medication order.  The physician and pharmacist must communicate in those situations to avoid an error.  Medication prescribers, such as doctors, should evaluate the patient's total status before ordering a new medication so as to ensure that the new medication will not adversely interact with medications the patient is currently taking.  Moreover, health care providers should work to ensure that the dosage level for each medication is correct and will not adversely affect the patient or the existing medications of the patient.   When it comes to dosage amounts, one of the more common errors is a physician who orders 0.5 milligrams of a medication but neglects to include the zero and the dosage is misread by the dispensing pharmacist as 5 milligrams, a potentially fatal error under the right medication circumstances. 

At STSW, our medical malpractice / medical mistake /catastrophic injury lawyers routinely handle cases involving medication errors / failing to administer timely medications / failure to monitor cases in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area.  Our team has successfully handled cases against both hospitals and pharmacies in the area in which medication errors have led to serious medical complications for our clients, complications which in some instances have occurred for years without the medication error being corrected.   If you or a loved one have been victimized by such a medical mistake, call our lawyers for a free consultation at 410-385-2225 or visit our website to set up a free consultation.