When it comes to medical malpractice, most people think only of lawsuits against doctors and hospitals accused of failing to provide proper care. A significant, but largely unrecognized, health care provider who plays a big role in ensuring or harming patients’ health is the pharmacist.
Most mistakes made by a pharmacy or by an individual pharmacist may be minor and cause little or no harm. Sometimes they are serious and cause severe, sometimes fatal consequences.
When these errors occur it is very important that the victim understands he or she has rights. Most often, errors that occur with regard to prescription medication are unintentional. Pharmacies are busy places, and the ever-expanding competition and number of drugs only makes errors more likely.
Florida Pharmacy Negligence Attorneys
With all of the possible places that a pharmacist might misstep, it is not surprising that pharmacy errors are a huge contributor to adverse health outcomes. Nearly 1.5 million Americans suffer from pharmacy medication errors each year and as we become more dependent on medications it is reasonable to believe those numbers will increase.
In Florida the number of pharmacies and pharmacists has kept pace with the explosive growth of population. Currently there are 19,324 registered pharmacies and 41,889 registered pharmacists. The population of Florida is currently about 19.5 million, so that is one pharmacist for every 465 people. Pharmacists in Florida are licensed and registered with the State, and you can verify a pharmacy or pharmacist online @ doh.state.fl.us
Lawsuits against negligent or irresponsible pharmacists are very specialized legal matters, and there are relatively few attorneys who handle these cases. The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has, for many years, successfully represented clients who have suffered prescription drug related damages.
What exactly is pharmacy malpractice, and how prevalent is it?
Pharmacists have a responsibility to make sure every patient receives the correct medications and is informed how to properly use the drugs. In many instances the pharmacist dispensing the medication is the only health care provider who has access to the patient’s complete treatment history, all the information on a drug’s potential side effects and interactions and access to the patient immediately before he or she takes the medication. That “last line of defense” role is especially important because pharmacists should be able to counsel and, when necessary, train patients on how to properly take the medication.
Negligence in Compounding Medications
While the days of pharmacists actually producing most of the medications you need are gone, some dosage forms can only be made in pharmacies. This is especially true for liquid medications, when pharmacists have to prepare I.V. bags or make an elixir out of drug that usually comes in pill or capsule form. Such reconstituting can be error-prone, and pharmacists who mix or compound medication incorrectly can be liable for negligence.
Negligence in Dispensing Medications
This is the case of the pharmacist simply handing you the wrong medication, the wrong dosage of the correct medication or the right drug with the wrong label containing incorrect instruction on when and how to take it.
Negligence in Supervision
Pharmacists in busy practices may rely on pharmacy technicians and assistants to fill prescription orders and hand drugs to patients. While those individuals have training, nothing can replace the knowledge and experience of a pharmacist, and they must be supervised at all times. Failure to provide adequate supervision to pharmacy staff can constitute negligence by a pharmacist.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sickness, injury, or death because of a pharmacy or pharmacist mistake, you should contact the office of Gary and Arleen Lazarus, expert attorneys in this field. They can be reached at 954-356-0006