CVS, Walmart and Rite Aid account for the vast majority of prescriptions filled in the U.S. Not surprisingly, these pharmacies are involved in the majority of prescription errors as well. Doctors are writing and dictating prescriptions in fast-paced and hectic environments such as in hospitals, dental offices, emergency room, urgent care centers, medical clinics, dental clinics and doctors’ offices. Once these prescriptions are sent to the pharmacy to be filled, the pharmacist , in order to comply with the standard of care for pharmacists, must check to make sure that the prescription itself is accurate. Then, once it is filled, the pharmacist must ensure that the prescription, as filled, is accurate and correct. Finally, the pharmacist must make sure that the properly prescribed prescription should be dispensed to the patient or whether there is an alert or other reason why it should not be dispensed. In a busy retail environment (such as at CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid, Target, Publix, Kroger, etc.) this is not always done and prescription errors occur. The reason that this compliance with the standard of care for pharmacists is so critical is that a mis-filled prescription, or a medication filled in the wrong dosage, or a medication filled with the correct dosage but with the wrong instructions, can potentially lead to serious injury and sometimes can even be fatal.
Failure to adhere to the standard of care amounts to negligence, or pharmacy malpractice. In order to prevail in a court of law, the Plaintiff in these types of cases must prove: (1) that there was a duty flowing from the pharmacist-patient relationship to comply with the standard of care and properly fill the prescription; (2) that this duty was breached when the pharmacist did not dispense the correct prescription; (3) that the breach of the standard of care caused the injuries that the Plaintiff is complaining of; and (4) that the damages that the Plaintiff is complaining about were a direct and proximate result of the malpractice. In most cases, the duty element of the case is clear, as the Plaintiff was a patient/customer of the pharmacist and received her prescription from the pharmacy. The more difficult issues presented when you file a lawsuit for pharmacy malpractice are in proving what the applicable standard of care was and that the pharmacist breached this duty. Similarly, the Plaintiff still must prove that the malpractice caused her injuries and in exactly which ways Plaintiff has suffered. Damages usually include past medical and hospital bills, past pain and suffering, future medical and hospital bills, past loss of earnings and future loss of earnings or a decreased ability to work and labor in the future due to the Plaintiff taking the wrong medication after the prescription error.
Prescription errors result in over 7,000 deaths every year. If you suspect that you, or a loved one, have been the victim of prescription error, feel free to contact Attorney Robert J. Fleming for a confidential and free case evaluation. Mr. Fleming can be reached directly by phone on (404) 923-7497.