Medical malpractice law applies to all health care providers, including pharmacies. Individuals who suffer injury due to medication errors made by doctors or pharmacies may have grounds to file a lawsuit, typically based on if a provider failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adverse drug effects (ADEs) account for 700,000 emergency department visits and 120,000 hospitalizations every year in the United States. Of course, a certain number of ADEs result from patients suffering unexpected side effects when they take the correct medication, as prescribed. Doctors incorrectly can prescribe medications or dosages, by failing to thoroughly review patient histories.
Pharmacies also make errors by issuing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of the correct medication. Even when a pharmacy fills a prescription correctly, it can provide incorrect instructions that cause patients to take too much or too little of a drug.
Patients can play an active role in protecting themselves from harmful prescription errors by discussing the prescription with the doctor, to ensure that they know the drug name and dosage, and whether or not it is safe for use with other medications they currently take. Then they need to have a similar conversation with the pharmacist, to help ensure that they receive the medication as prescribed, and to ascertain that the pharmacist has cross-checked the appropriateness of the prescribed drug. Patients who notice adverse changes in health after taking a prescription need to seek immediate medical attention. And anyone who suffers injuries caused by medication mistakes needs to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, to learn about the legal options that are available to compensate him or her for the damages caused by these serious errors.