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Prescription & Medication Errors

Prescription & Medication Errors

According to the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), there are 30 million medication errors made annually by U.S. pharmacies. These errors can be minor and easily remedied, such as issuing the wrong number of doses, but they also can be serious or even deadly. A medication or a prescription error is any preventable mistake that can lead to incorrect medication packaging, dispensing or distributing which can result in harm to patients.

Common Pharmacy Errors

There are a number of common pharmacy errors, such as:

  • Dispensing another patient’s prescriptions to you.
  • Dispensing the wrong medication in a bottle labeled with your information.
  • The label or materials do not indicate side effects, allergic reactions, or contraindications.
  • The pharmacist does not appropriately answer your questions regarding the medication.
  • The pharmacist dispenses the medication despite your questions about its interactions with other medications, purpose, dosage, or other issues.
  • The pharmacist or pharmacy technician confuses two medications due to similar names.

Causes of Medication & Prescription Errors

Medication or prescription errors can be caused by many different factors. The wide variety of errors that can happen can be caused by even more situations. These situations are avoidable with proper diligence and care. Some common causes of medication and prescription errors can include:

  • Overworked pharmacy staff: In many chain pharmacies, the pharmacy staff works long hours and can fill hundreds of prescriptions each shift. Pharmacies may also use pharmacy technicians to help fill the prescriptions. These technicians don’t possess as extensive an education as pharmacists and may make mistakes. Busy staff may also confuse medications, as many more common medications are also being released in generic forms with different shapes, colors, and sizes.
  • Inadequate training: More and more pharmacies are being built to keep up with the demand, and more pharmacists are needed. Pharmacists are spending less time in training before moving to oversee their own pharmacy. Inexperience and inadequate training can lead to mistakes. Clerks and technicians also need to be appropriately trained to recognize medications for each customer and take the appropriate steps to ensure that customers receive the necessary information regarding their medication.
  • Inadequate supervision: The pharmacist should oversee all operations within the pharmacy, but often they are often too busy to provide the necessary supervision. It falls to technicians to measure medications, label the bottles, and dispense the medications. It is easy for under-trained technicians to make errors when filling prescriptions.
  • Poor communication: Pharmacists and the patient’s doctors should be in communication regarding medications and new prescriptions to ensure that the patient receives the correct medication. Often, the busy schedules of doctors and pharmacists alike leave important communication in the hands of clerks and receptionists.
  • Automated systems: Many pharmacies use automated systems to manage refills, patient notifications, billing, and patient information. These systems can result in errors, particularly when patients don’t understand or have difficulty using the automated system. If medications aren’t filled on time or patients aren’t appropriately notified, patients may have to go without medications for several days while the error is resolved.

Liability for Prescription Error Injuries

While many prescription errors can be harmless, some can cause serious illness or injuries. Even negative side effects or adverse reactions like nausea, vomiting, or dizziness can be considered an injury caused by prescription errors. There are some things you will need to prove in order for your pharmacy to be held liable for your injury, such as:

  • The pharmacy has a duty of care not to injure you. This is typically assumed by the court.
  • The pharmacy breached this duty of care and was negligent in their actions.
  • These negligent actions directly caused your injury.
  • You were injured as a result of the negligence.
  • Your injury resulted in compensable damages, including hospital bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you prove each of these points, and can advocate for your interests in settlement discussions or in court, if needed. They can file a lawsuit on your behalf, take depositions, issue subpoenas, and defend you in court hearings. A skilled lawyer can be a valuable resource for your case.

Our Albuquerque personal injury attorney is committed to protecting injured clients. Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law has more than a decade of experience to offer our clients, and our firm will strive to offer compassionate, personalized legal service to fit your needs. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.

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