Just as we rely on doctors and hospitals to correctly diagnose and treat us when we are sick, we rely on the pharmacist to provide us with the correct medicine in the correct dosage, and to answer any questions or give us important information we need to know to take the medicine correctly. As the pharmacy customer, we have no way of knowing if the right medicine is being given to us; in fact, we may suffer serious harm from pharmacy errors and not even know the cause.
As a comprehensive Tampa medical malpractice law firm, the attorneys at Palmer | Lopez have experience with the wide range of medical errors which may be committed by doctors, nurses, hospitals and even pharmacists. Call our office for a free consultation with one of our lawyers if you think you may have been harmed by a pharmacy error.
Professional Duties of the Pharmacist
Pharmacists have a legal and professional duty to protect their customers from harm. This duty requires them to consult with prescribing physicians to prevent mistakes, and to review prescriptions before filling them, checking for interactions with other medications the customer is taking, and finding out about drug allergies the customer may have and other potential problems. Many prescriptions today are filled by pharmacy techs with less education and training than a licensed pharmacist, so it is more important than ever that the pharmacist check and approve every prescription that is filled.
The Most Common and Serious Pharmacy Errors
The most common pharmacy error is unfortunately also the mistake which has the potential to create the greatest harm. Nearly half of all pharmacy errors result in the wrong drug being delivered to the patient. With over 10,000 different prescription drugs on the market and new ones being developed every day, it is no surprise that some vastly different drugs may have names that look or sound very similar, some almost identical. This risk of misidentification is no excuse, however, but rather a call for exercising greater care. Pharmacists are well aware of this fact and must use diligence and care when filling prescriptions to avoid selecting the wrong medication.
Behind filling the prescription with the wrong drug, the second leading pharmacy mistake involves dosing errors, or filling the right prescription at the wrong strength. Medicines often come in many different strengths, and pharmacists or pharmacy techs may get distracted or confused and select the wrong strength. Medications typically also come in a variety of different dosing mediums, such as capsules, tablets, liquids, and inhalants, and the correct dosage may change depending upon the medium used. Pharmacists who change delivery methods to meet patient requests must take care to make sure the correct dosage will be delivered. Dosing errors account for about one-fourth of pharmacy errors.
The third major type of pharmacy error involves mistakes regarding the directions or counseling given to a customer. Patients are often not given instructions about how to take a medicine by the doctor who is prescribing the drug; instead they rely on the pharmacist, who is supposed to be able to answer questions regarding any aspect related to taking the medication. Common questions of pharmacists include:
- When should the medicine be taken?
- For how long should the medicine be taken?
- How should the medicine be taken?
- How should the medicine be stored?
- What should the customer do if he or she misses a dose?
- Are there any foods, drinks, other medicines or activities that should be avoided while taking the medicine?
Pharmacists who are too busy to be attentive to customers, listen to their questions and give adequate answers run the risk of being held liable for the harm their negligence causes.
Call our Tampa Medical Malpractice Lawyers for a Free Consultation Regarding a Pharmacy Mistake
If you believe that you may have been harmed by a pharmacy error in Tampa, call Palmer | Lopez for a free consultation at 813-506-5651. Our Tampa malpractice lawyers will review your records and consult with medical experts as necessary to determine whether pharmacy malpractice may have occurred, and we will advocate strongly on your behalf to see that you are fully compensated for any pharmacy malpractice.