Medical malpractice comes in many forms, including those arising from prescription drug errors. We instinctively trust pharmacists to correctly fill our prescriptions, but unfortunately, this does not always happen. Our treating physicians also bear responsibility when it comes to the medications we use. Doctors and pharmacists alike are required to use a certain level of care in discharging their duties. When they fail to do so, serious injuries and deaths can result.
The attorneys at Scaffidi & Associates understand the serious consequences of prescription drug errors, and we aggressively pursue legal compensation for the victims of such malpractice.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Prescription Drug Errors?
Pharmacists are granted a great deal of power in handling and dispensing prescription drugs. But doctors also play a role in ensuring the drugs we are prescribed do not harm us. When health care professionals are careless with their duties, a number of different errors can occur, such as:
- Dispensing the wrong drug: This can happen for many reasons, including miscommunication between the physician and pharmacist or dispensing a drug with a similar name to the correct one. It may even be as simple as putting the wrong patient name on the medication, or transcription errors regarding the medication. Regardless of why it happens, taking the wrong drug can be fatal.
- Dispensing an incorrect dosage: Pharmacists must carefully measure the number of pills or amount of a drug, and they have to ensure that what they dispense is the right dosage. Different dosages may look the same, or the pharmacist may simply be careless in filling the prescription. A diluted or partial dosage will have a different effect than a full one, and the difference could be life-threatening.
- Allergies and adverse drug reactions: This error often occurs when the doctor fails to ask a patient about allergies. They also need to know what other drugs you are taking. Pharmacists are responsible for receiving this information and making sure it is used appropriately.
- Patient history: Again, this mistake often occurs with the doctor. But the pharmacist also has an obligation to ask questions about your personal and medical history to ensure dangerous medications are not dispensed.
- Warnings and labels: Pharmacists are responsible for giving detailed drug warnings to patients. Some of these should be included on the labels that are placed on the drug container. These warnings have critical information, like when the drugs can be taken, whether they have to be taken with food or drink, side effects, and much more.
What Can Happen If an Error Is Made?
When a doctor, pharmacist, or other responsible party makes a mistake involving prescription drugs, the consequences may be severe:
- Side effects, some of which may not be anticipated
- Adverse drug reactions and allergic reactions, including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
- Physical injuries
- Neurological injuries
- Dependence on medications
- Aggravated conditions that should have been treated by the proper medication
Why Do Prescription Drug Errors Occur?
There are a number of individuals who are involved with your prescription drugs, from the intake nurse at your doctor’s office down to the pharmacy employee who gives you your medicine. With so many people involved, mistakes can happen for reasons such as:
- Carelessness: Pharmacists, doctors, and other health care professionals are obligated to uphold a certain level of care. Even seemingly simple mistakes like miscounting the number of pills can have serious consequences.
- Distractions: Doctors are notoriously busy and often overworked. This is especially true in hospitals, where physicians have to see multiple patients in a short period of time.
- Not asking questions: Perhaps the intake nurse didn’t investigate your background at all, or ask relevant questions about your condition, the drugs you take, and so on. The pharmacist can overlook this step as well.
- Insufficient or unqualified staffing: Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must be qualified, and pharmacies should have enough people working to ensure that errors are not made.
The bottom line is that these errors should not occur. Any health care professionals involved with your prescription drugs are required to take necessary precautions to avoid what could be fatal mistakes.
What Is Required To Hold Pharmacists And Others Liable?
Medical malpractice cases, including those involving pharmacist errors, follow a particular formula. To recover damages, the injured patient must demonstrate the following:
- Duty: the physician, pharmacist, or other parties responsible for your injuries owed you a certain duty of care.
- Breach: the responsible party breached that duty by acting negligently.
- Causation: the breach directly caused you some form of harm.
- Damages: the harm you experienced caused medical, physical, financial, or some other loss.
What Are The Potential Damages In A Prescription Drug Error Case?
Depending on the circumstances in your case, you may be entitled to a number of damages resulting from prescription drug errors. They include:
- Medical expenses for treating side effects and physical injuries
- Lost wages for missing time from work to obtain treatment or because of your injuries
- Diminished earning capacity if your injuries made you unable to fully perform your work functions
- Disability if the error resulted in certain permanent physical conditions
- Emotional trauma and pain and suffering in some cases
Let an Experienced NYC Prescription Drug Errors Attorney Go To Work For You
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a prescription drug error, you may have the right to seek compensation. Call the dedicated attorneys at Scaffidi & Associates today. Let us go to work for you and ensure you get justice for your injuries.