Pharmacy Error Injury Attorney Serving Charleston, SC
According to the National Patient Safety Foundation, approximately 1 out of every 100 prescriptions filled at pharmacies in the United States contains an error. This amounts to approximately 30 million pharmacy errors every year. Other studies estimate that the number of prescriptions that contain errors is much higher, particularly when prescription labels with incorrect directions are taken into account. Many errors are harmless or are caught by patients, but others have caused serious injury and even death.
One common type of error is dispensing the wrong drug. In one study by a major pharmacy insurer, 43.8% of claims paid to injured involved situations in a pharmacy dispensed the wrong drug. A patient who is provided the wrong drug may be harmed by that drug or by the failure to receive the needed drug. For example, in one case a patient was provided with an anti-histamine, used to treat allergies, instead of chemotherapy drugs, needed to treat their cancer. Providing a patient with the wrong drug is often the result of name confusion, where the pharmacist dispenses a different drug with a similar sounding name. Providing a patient with the wrong drug may also be the result of a picking error, where a pharmacist pulls a drug off the shelf that immediately next to the correct drug.
Another common type of error is dispensing the wrong dosage of the correct drug. In the same study cited above, 31.5% of cases involved a situation in which a pharmacy dispensed the wrong dose. If a patient is provided a dosage larger than the prescribed amount, he may be seriously harmed by overdosing on the drug. For example, in some cases, patients have been given doses that were three times the recommended dosage. If a patient is provided a dosage that is smaller than the prescribed amount, he may suffer harm when he is robbed of the beneficial effects of the drug.
Why Do Pharmacy Errors Happen?
The rate of errors committed in many U.S. pharmacies is unacceptably high. Too often medication errors are completely avoidable but are the inevitable result of sloppy procedures or bad company policies. Some of the factors that contribute to pharmacy errors include:
- Failure to develop effective an quality assurance process – Pharmacies need to have quality assurance procedures in place to check at multiple points that medication dispensed correctly. This includes checking the name, date of birth, and other identifying information of the patient and doing a final check of the medication against the prescription before it is handed over to the double-checking the patient.
- Failure to follow the established quality assurance process – In some pharmacies where a quality assurance process is in place, staff sometimes fail to follow that process rigorously. The temptation to cut corners is particularly strong when the pharmacy is understaffed or a line of customers begins to form.
- Overworked staff – In some retail locations, pharmacists are being asked to fill prescriptions in 12-hour shifts, or 60 hours per week. Pharmacists who work long shifts are more likely to make mistakes than pharmacists. Pharmacy companies know that mistakes happen when staff are overworked. They must be held to account when they nevertheless choose to understaff locations or require staff to work long hours.
- Error in the prescription written by the doctor – In some cases, a pharmacy error begins with an error in the prescription written by the prescribing physician. Even when this is the case, as professionals trained in the purpose and use of pharmaceuticals, it may nevertheless be incumbent on the pharmacist to catch these errors or verify unusual prescriptions with the prescribing physician.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you or someone close to you have been harmed by a medication error committed by a pharmacy, you need to seek representation from an experienced attorney in order to ensure that your rights are protected. Richard will listen to your concerns and ensure that they are fully addressed in any settlement. Richard is experienced in negotiating with pharmacy insurance companies to reach a settlement that fairly compensates his clients for the harm done to them. Richard prepares every case as though it were going to trial, and he will not hesitate to drag an insurance company into court where it is unwilling to come to a reasonable agreement. Call him at the number above or use the contact form on this page to obtain a free consultation.
Resources Related to Pharmacy Errors
- Drug Topics, Pharmacy dispensing errors: Claims study emphasizes need for systematic vigilance
- Pharmacy Times, What Makes Pharmacy Mistakes More Likely
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Strategies to Reduce Medication Errors
- U.S. News & World Report, How to Deal with Prescription Errors
- USA Today, Inside a Pharmacy Where a Fatal Error Occurred