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What to Do if Pharmacy Gave Me Wrong Medication?

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What to Do if Pharmacy Gave Me Wrong Medication?

When we go to a pharmacy, we’re at the mercy of the pharmacists to do their job well. This includes making sure the medications they dispense are accurate ones. This especially holds true for people who are already on medications that may have an adverse reaction when mixed with others. Likewise, some medications are critical to ensure patients fighting severe illnesses have the best chance of recovering. Dispensing the wrong medication can cause a patient to become more ill, and they lose crucial time they could have used fighting diseases if they had been given the correct medication. Ingesting the wrong medication can even be fatal for some.

Perhaps you received the wrong medication from Walgreens, CVS Health, Rite Aid, Kroger, Publix, Costco, Albertsons, or a Walmart pharmacy. Maybe the pharmacists labeled the medication with incorrect instructions, which led to harm. Wrong directions can lead to overdose and other adverse reactions. If you’ve experienced something like this, you may be questioning, ”What to do if pharmacy gave me wrong medication?” At Morgan and Morgan, we get asked questions about pharmacy liability more frequently than we would wish, meaning there seems to be an epidemic of these kinds of problems. 

Generally speaking, you can sue a pharmacy for harm that results from receiving medication that isn’t what your doctor prescribed or other wrongdoings. It’s important to consider that when you sue, you have a chance of getting compensation for the mistake, and you also provide a valuable lesson to negligent pharmacies and pharmacists whose lack of vigilance and oversight may cause grave harm to their customers. Here’s information on pursuing a lawsuit against a pharmacy or pharmacist. 

Wrong Medication Injuries Are More Common Than You Think

It’s likely that we’ll all use at least one type of medication or another at some time in our life. In 2019, the largest 15 pharmacies in the U.S. filled $341.2 billion in prescriptions. When we go to the doctor, we put a certain amount of trust in them. Yet, even if the doctor gets it right and prescribes the medications we need, we still have to trust that the pharmacists will accurately fill the prescription, so our health and well-being improve. 

Today, many Baby Boomers depend on medications, which leaves them more vulnerable to medication errors. However, an increasingly more significant number of younger individuals are taking medications as new drugs flood the market with pharmaceutical industry developments. With more drugs being prescribed, the chance for error increases.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports it receives more than 100,000 reports each year regarding suspected medication errors. These errors cause seriously harmful results, which can include:

  • Death
  • Life-threatening conditions
  • Hospitalizations
  • Disabilities
  • Birth defects

A 2016 Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives report revealed that more than 7 million U.S. patients are impacted by medication errors each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that at least one person dies every day due to medication errors making it the eighth leading cause of death. Medication errors injure 1.3 million every year in the U.S.

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  • What Are Common Medication Errors?

    Medication errors can happen in a variety of ways. A medication error occurs when the medication-use system causes harm to the individual taking the medication. While a breakdown of this system can happen at any point, here are the top causes of medication use errors:

    • Errors in the prescription phase
    • Failure to prescribe, dispense or administer a medication
    • Delayed or premature use of medications
    • A patient receiving medication that is not authorized for them
    • Incorrect use of a medication
    • Wrong dosage of medication
    • Incorrect preparation of a medication
    • Medication administration error
    • Not taking a patient’s medical condition or the potential for drug interactions into account
    • Not following rules for prescribing medications or improper dispensing of medications 

    Unfortunately, when a patient receives a misdiagnosis, a wrong medication error will almost certainly be automatic. Under those circumstances, it may be more appropriate to sue the doctor that failed to diagnose the actual illness or injury. 

  • Why Do Medication Errors Happen?  

    Wrong medication errors happen for a variety of reasons. A pharmacy can administer the wrong medication to a patient because of labeling errors. If a large number of patients receive the wrong medication due to the mislabeling of a drug, the ramifications can be extreme. Mislabeling often occurs because drugs may have confusingly similar names but are used to treat very different ailments. 

    An understaffed pharmacy can result in rushed orders, increasing the likelihood of the wrong medicine being given to patients. Likewise, understaffing may cause a breakdown in communication between the pharmacy and patients’ treating physicians. Doctors’ illegible handwritten prescriptions are often the cause of wrong medication errors, and if pharmacy staff is overwhelmed, they may make their best guess as to what the prescription actually reads.

    Pharmacists can also make mistakes in dosage strength or form. They may not catch when a drug could interact with the patient’s other medications. Dosage miscalculations are another common error. 

    Chain pharmacies are at the greatest risk for understaffing because they are pressured to meet corporate metrics. Some pharmacists feel so overwhelmed by pressure to meet these metrics they can’t even make it to the bathroom or have time to eat during long demanding shifts. Once upon a time, pharmacists were able to provide in-depth consultations with patients. Now, with corporate metrics in place, every aspect of their job is timed as corporations push for more profits. 

    Major companies like Walgreens and CVS declined to release data concerning errors at their pharmacies. However, when a mistake happens, the pharmacist almost always gets blamed. This is something that should be looked at very closely as major corporations should not cultivate a work culture that puts the lives of U.S. citizens at risk, all in the name of profit. With that being said, we believe there is no excuse for a pharmacy to provide you with the wrong medication. Someone needs to be held accountable when you or a loved one is harmed by being given the wrong medication. 

  • What if the Pharmacy Gave Me the Wrong Instructions for My Medication?

    When we get a new prescription, we rely on the pharmacy to give us instructions on when, how, and how much to take. When we’re given the wrong instructions on the bottle, it can have serious consequences. Suppose your prescription for a pain reliever is supposed to say something like, “Take one pill every six hours,” but instead says, “Take when needed.” A person in a lot of pain could easily overdose to get relief.  

    You might be surprised that not everyone who works at the pharmacy is a pharmacist. Instead, they may be pharmacy technicians or assistants who a proper pharmacist oversees. However, their job duties may involve things like labeling bottles and reviewing prescription information. Most states do not have educational requirements for these individuals beyond a high school diploma. 

    Even so, being given the wrong instructions for your medication makes the pharmacy liable for the error if you sustained harm because of their negligence. 

  • When Do Pharmacy Errors Entitle Victims to Compensation for Harm?

    The most problematic issue with wrong medication errors is that in some instances, it can be life-threatening, if not deadly. Overdose, debilitating drug interactions, dangerous side effects, and severe allergic reactions can all result from being given the wrong medications. Some injuries can include permanent damage to organs like the liver, kidneys, heart, and brain. 

    The very young and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to overdose. Individuals who rely on prescription medications to halt or regress the advancement of deadly diseases can have significantly dangerous outcomes. For instance, a patient who is relying on chemotherapy drugs but has a medication dispensed to them that treats heart conditions may die from the lack of the intended life-saving medicines. 

    Many of these errors will go unnoticed until irreparable harm comes to fruition or the patient dies. When this kind of negligence occurs, the victim or their family can sue for medical malpractice. 

    In one case, a pharmacy filled a steroid prescription with a dosage of over ten times that which the doctor prescribed. The patient then developed avascular necrosis of both hip joints requiring future surgical replacement of the hip joints. In this claim, the pharmacy was found at fault. 

    An 85-year-old woman suffered an untimely death after she received an overdose of methotrexate which was eight times the proper dosage. Before she died, she suffered from anemia and a weakened immune system. Both the physician and the pharmacy that filled this prescription resolved the claim with the woman’s estate. Unfortunately, nursing homes have a high rate of medication errors, harm, and death.

  • How Much Are Medication Error Lawsuits Typically Worth?

    Medication error lawsuits fall under medical malpractice. The average jury verdict for medical malpractice is $3.5 million. However, most medical malpractice claims are settled out of court due to the time and costs. Still, the average settlement amount is between $400,000 and $600,000. 

    You may wonder why anyone would settle when a jury verdict is usually much more than a settlement. The answer is not simple, but it starts to make sense when you factor in the stress, time, and costs along with an uncertain outcome of a trial. A settlement is a guaranteed outcome because both parties enter into a legally binding agreement. 

    A jury trial could go either way. If the evidence isn’t robust on your side, it might be best to settle with some compensation instead of none should the jury side with the pharmacy. Furthermore, if you win at trial, the other party has a right to appeal. If the appellate court decides there were errors in the first trial, your award may be reduced, or the decision may be reversed. 

    Depending on your state’s laws, you may be entitled to sue for the following damages:

    • Medical bills for treating or correcting the harm done by the wrong medication
    • Lost wages if you had to miss work due to wrong medication injury
    • A disability that resulted from pharmacy error
    • Pain and suffering
    • Loss of household income, loss of affection, and loss of parental guidance in case of wrongful death
  • What to Do if the Pharmacy Gave You the Wrong Medication

    Pharmacies and pharmacists have a duty to their patients to ensure no harm comes to them through the medications they dispense. They must make sure to comply with FDA drug alerts and recalls. Expired medicines need to be removed. Verifications are required to make sure that the medication you receive is what your doctor prescribed, including the dose and amount, and that the instructions are accurate. Finally, they have a duty to check your patient profile to ensure the drug won’t interact with any other medications you’re taking and explain how to take the drug and the possible side effects. 

    When you contact Morgan and Morgan, we will go over the specifics of your claim to see if we feel you have a good case for medical malpractice. From there, we will advise you of your rights and work to develop a legal strategy to gain you the maximum compensation possible for your injuries. We have a long-standing reputation for fighting for the rights of victims who have come to harm due to the negligent practices of pharmacies. Regardless of where you are in the United States, we have attorneys ready to help. Our fee is free unless we win.

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