Posted on 02/21/2022

What You Should Know About Pharmaceutical Malpractice

What You Should Know About Pharmaceutical Malpractice

Medication mix-ups occur in more than 100,000 prescriptions each year. 

More serious cases, which result in life-threatening injuries, are one out of every 1,000 prescriptions.

A pharmacist might accidentally grab the wrong medication because its name is similar to another. This can also happen in a hospital setting, when a nurse or doctor grabs the wrong medication and administers it.

Most claims are caused by the wrong drug being given to a patient or giving a grossly incorrect dosage of the correct drug. Sometimes, naming mixups are responsible for giving people the wrong medicine.

When incorrect prescriptions are given to patients, or their dosages are incorrect, these mistakes can cause permanent disability or death.

Pharmacies have many safety protocols, including counting, and re-counting, but sometimes mistakes happen. And that can cause dire health consequences for their patients.

If you or your loved one has experienced suffering, disability, or death caused by pharmaceutical malpractice, continue reading to learn how you can get the compensation you deserve.

What is Pharmaceutical Malpractice? 

Pharmaceutical companies, doctors, and pharmacists can all make mistakes that ultimately lead to negative health consequences constituting pharmaceutical malpractice.

In some cases, defective drugs are produced by pharmaceutical companies that have shown over years to increase certain health risks, requiring their recall from the market. 

In other cases, pharmacists and doctors simply make errors in dispensing the correct medication or dosages.

Pharmaceutical malpractice lawsuits can be filed against pharmacies, pharmacists, hospitals, and healthcare providers, depending on who’s at fault for their negligence.

Types of Pharmaceutical Malpractice

The following are the most common types of pharmaceutical malpractice seen by lawyers today.

Defective Drugs

All medications will include a list of side effects that may occur in a patient. In most cases, the benefits of these drugs outweigh the risks of side effects.

However, there have been numerous FDA-approved medications that have been recalled after they’ve been shown to cause serious side effects. In other cases, large batches of medicine have become contaminated, requiring a drug recall. 

When patients take these defective drugs, they may face serious health consequences. Effects can be such as an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, or death.

Examples of major defective drugs that have been discontinued include:

  • Fenfluramine/phentermine (Fen-Phen), a weight-loss drug that was linked to heart valve damage. 
  • Terfenadine (Seldane), a popular antihistamine that caused cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Rofecoxib (Vioxx), a pain reliever for arthritis that caused an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Phenylpropanolamine (PPA), a cough medicine and appetite suppressant that increases the risk of stroke in women.

Pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these defective drugs can be held legally responsible when their drugs cause serious side effects, including death.

Dispensing the Wrong Dosage of a Drug

Pharmacist malpractice can occur when a pharmacy prescribes the correct medication to a patient, but incorrectly lists the wrong dosage for the medicine.

Depending on the type of medication, serious side effects, including overdose, can occur. In other cases, when the dosage is too low, the medication can become useless. This can result in the patient not seeing an improvement in their health. 

If an incorrect dosage is taken over an extended period of time, serious health consequences are likely to occur, which can’t be undone.

Dispensing the Wrong Medication

Sometimes a pharmacist outright gives the wrong medication to a patient, which has a two-fold consequence:

  1. The patient isn’t taking the right medication to alleviate their health issue.
  2. The wrong prescriptions can cause negative side-effects that can further harm them.

Medication mix-ups can happen when a pharmacist accidentally grabs the wrong prescription that has a similar-sounding name. In other instances, a pharmacist may misread the doctor’s handwriting, misinterpreting the correct medication.

In more negligent cases, a pharmacist might mix up the patients’ names, giving medication to the wrong person entirely.

For these reasons, responsible pharmacists will double-check, including contacting the doctor and verifying the patient’s information to confirm they are dispensing the correct medication to the right person.

Providing Incorrect Directions or Missing Instructions

Every prescription must have clear directions informing the patient of the correct dosage to take.

Usually, these instructions will tell patients the correct time to take their medication, the proper dosage, and whether or not to take their medication with food or on an empty stomach. Certain medications, such as pain killers, will also need warnings about avoiding alcohol or avoiding operating heavy machinery while on the drug. 

Failure to provide risks to pregnant women can also cause serious issues in certain cases that may negatively harm the development of a fetus, causing birth injuries or defects later.

In addition to the written directions, a pharmacist should clearly explain to the patient while they’re picking up the prescription how to properly use their medication.

Failure to provide clear instructions on proper medication administration can cause dire consequences to patients who accidentally skip a dosage and double their dosage without prior warnings.

Not Cross-Referencing Medicines for Known Patient Allergies

Certain medications can cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock, which can be a deadly reaction that results in narrowed, blocked breathing.

Other allergic reactions can include hives, rash, shortness of breath, or inflammation in the kidneys.

For these reasons, pharmacists and doctors need to cross-reference the patient’s known allergies so they don’t prescribe a potentially life-threatening medication.

Not Checking for Drug Interactions or Contraindications

In addition to checking for allergies, a doctor and pharmacist must also keep an eye out on what prescriptions the patient is currently taking to make sure there aren’t drug interactions or contraindications.

Sometimes, drug interactions may cause the medications to cancel each other out, enabling both medications useless. In more serious cases, drug interactions can cause death.

Think You May Have a Pharmaceutical Malpractice Case? Contact the Experts at Grover Lewis Johnson

Have you or a loved one recently experienced financial, emotional, or physical hardship caused by a doctor’s or pharmacists’ negligence dispensing medication? 

Contact the experts at Grover Lewis Johnson to determine if you have a case.

Our compassionate team has over 25 years of experience handling successful medical malpractice lawsuits, including pharmaceutical malpractice cases.

 If we determine you have a strong case, we will gladly work with you on a contingency fee basis. This means you won’t have to pay unless you win.

Contact us today so we can learn more about your case. Don’t wait any longer to get the compensation you deserve.