Pharmacists play a critical role in our healthcare system. We trust these trained professionals to correctly dispense the medications that we rely on for our health and wellness—medications that often can be life-saving. Still, despite the extensive education and training pharmacists are required to achieve, they are still human, which means they’re capable of making errors. But unlike most other professions, a simple mistake by a pharmacist can have life-altering consequences.
Here’s what you need to know about when a pharmacist may be liable for medical malpractice and how a pharmacist medical malpractice lawyer can help you file suit.
What Are the Legal Duties of a Pharmacist?
Most of us picture a pharmacist as the person who counts out our pills and doses, dispensing our medications to us when we need them. But depending on state laws, a pharmacist may have a much broader role, including such additional responsibilities as:
- Reviewing a patient’s medical history in regard to the current medications being dispensed to ensure a safe mixture. A pharmacist must take into account any potentially harmful interactions, as well as any allergies the patient may have. If a pharmacist believes a medication may prove harmful to a patient, they may also be required to contact a patient’s physician for further instruction.
- Warning patients of possible medication side effects.
- Offering to discuss the medication with a patient, as well as answering any related questions.
What Mistakes Might Pharmacists Make?
Given the full range of responsibilities assigned to pharmacists, there are a number of situations in which pharmacists may make mistakes that equate to medical negligence.
- Delivering the incorrect medication. There are three common ways that a pharmacist might make a mistake when giving medications to patients:
- Dispensing the wrong medication, dosage strength or dosage form
- Miscalculating a dose
- Failing to identify drug interactions or contraindications
Dispensing the wrong medication in any of these ways can have dangerous consequences for patients, which is why a pharmacist who makes this error will most often be found negligent. Even in the extremely rare event that a medication was incorrectly labeled by the manufacturer, a pharmacist may still be liable for not having caught the error.
- Failing to take a patient’s medical history into account. The responsibility of a pharmacist to review a patient’s medical history is an important one. If a pharmacist fails to do so and misses an important warning, such as the fact that the patient has a serious medication allergy, the consequences could be dire. If a pharmacist fails to contact the patient’s physician, or fills the prescription before the patient confirms it with their healthcare provider, the pharmacist could be found liable for negligence.
- Neglecting to screen multiple prescriptions. Some states require that a pharmacy review all medications simultaneously prescribed to each patient. If a patient comes in needing a new medication and a pharmacist fails to ensure that it may safely be taken with the patient’s other existing medications, the pharmacist may be found liable for negligence.
Am I Eligible to File a Malpractice Claim Against a Pharmacist?
To be successful in a malpractice claim, there are certain legal elements that must be proven. That’s why it’s to your advantage to enlist the help of an experienced professional who is well versed in malpractice law.
A pharmacist malpractice lawyer can explain your rights and what types of recovery are available to you. They will also work to prove:
- Duty: The pharmacist had a legal responsibility to the victim
- Breach: The pharmacist neglected to uphold that legal responsibility
- Causation: The victim’s injury was caused by the pharmacist’s failure to live up to their duty
- Damages: The patient suffered an injury for which the legal system can recompense
Pharmacist Malpractice Lawyers Who Fight for Your Rights
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the carelessness or negligence of a pharmacist, we’re here to help you seek recovery for your losses. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. We’ll serve as the counsel and support you need, so that you can continue on your path toward healing.