Pharmacist’s Duty of Care in Florida – A Case Involving Drug Intoxication and Death

Pharmacist’s Duty of Care in Florida – A Case Involving Drug Intoxication and Death
When people go to the pharmacy to have a prescription filled, most assume that a collaboration between their doctor, the pharmacist, and the pharmacy’s computerized record system will ensure they stay in line with a plan for their best health. That is often not a realistic expectation.

A case in Florida involved two powerful medications – Alprazolam and Hydrocodone – and a patient (Mr. Steven Porter) who died as a result of combined intoxication from those drugs in March of 2011.

Instead of cooperatively working together, a lawsuit alleged that the physician involved over-prescribed the drugs and the pharmacy filled the prescriptions in a manner that exceeded what would be deemed reasonable and safe levels.

The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Mr. Porter and also stated that the pharmacy did not warm Mr. Porter about the dangers associated with taking large quantities of the drugs. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit, however a higher court, the District Court of Appeal 5th District reversed the decision.

The Court said, in part “A pharmacy owes a customer a duty of reasonable care. Pharmacists are required to exercise that degree of care that an ordinarily prudent pharmacist would under the same or similar circumstances. We agree with Powers and hold that a pharmacist’s duty to use due and proper care in filling a prescription extends beyond simply following the prescribing physician’s directions.”

They also said the pharmacy “filled, without question, numerous prescriptions that were so close together that Pharmacy should have been put on notice that Mr. Porter was getting too many pills within too short a period-similar to the pharmacies in Powers. We refuse to interpret a pharmacist’s duty to use “due and proper care in filling the prescription” as being satisfied by “robotic compliance” with the instructions of the prescribing physician.”

There have been many other cases similar to this one, and fortunately the irresponsible prescribing of very powerful drugs has been reduced to a certain extent. However, with hundreds of new drugs introduced into the market each year, there remains a high level of vigilance to be maintained on keeping patients safe from improper dosages and dangerous interactions.

The responsibility owed all patients by the medical community is becoming more clear and better defined in the courts. However this area of law is very complex, and it is wise to seek qualified advice if you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a pharmacist’s or pharmacy’s mistake.

The Law Office of Lazarus and Lazarus has dedicated a special area of their practice to pharmacy errors. Gary and Arleen Lazarus are extremely familiar with the statutes governing this area, with the drugs and drug interactions that most commonly harm people, and with the best course of action to win compensation for victims of medical prescription errors.

The attorneys at Lazarus and Lazarus can be reached by calling 954-356-0006 and they will be happy to schedule time to sit down with you and listen to your story.