I. What is a Pharmacy Error?
Pharmacy errors, also referred to as prescription errors or medication errors, occur within pharmacy settings, whether due to the negligence of a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician. Pharmacy errors can occur when the pharmacy either provides the wrong medication, fills the prescription incorrectly, gives improper instructions, or provides inadequate warnings about prescription drugs.
For example, in 2014 a Missouri woman was prescribed Metolazone, a diuretic intended for daily use for the treatment of high blood pressure. However, the pharmacy erroneously provided her with Methotrexate, a powerful chemotherapy drug and auto-immune disorder treatment intended to be taken weekly. The patient’s unknowing use of Methotrexate resulted in her death.
While human error can occur, there are federal and state laws pharmacies must follow as well policies, procedures, and other safeguards pharmacies can enact to avoid these errors. However, too often pharmacies may cut corners on patient safety, resulting in injury and death.
II. What are the State Laws Surrounding Pharmacy Errors?
The law requires that pharmacists use the highest degree of prudence, thoughtfulness, and diligence when filling prescriptions for patients. When a pharmacy breaches this duty and commits negligence, the pharmacy can be liable if the patient was injured and there is a causal connection between the injury and the negligence.
In Missouri, a pharmacist must review and inspect the accuracy of the prescription before giving it to a patient. Before distributing the prescription, the pharmacist may also offer counseling to a patient or the patient’s caregiver. In Missouri, pharmacists may have to discuss the safe and appropriate use of the drug with a patient. Compared to some other states, pharmacists in Missouri are given more latitude to exercise professional judgment when deciding whether to counsel patients.
In Illinois, a pharmacist must provide final verification before prescriptions are dispensed. A pharmacist shall counsel patients when a patient receives a new prescription, when a patient is new to the pharmacy, when a prescription dose or strength is changed, or when a pharmacist otherwise deems counseling is necessary. Moreover, a pharmacist in Illinois must exercise sound professional judgment to verify the accuracy and authenticity of a prescription the pharmacist fills.
In Kansas, a pharmacist is required to read and interpret a prescription before filling it, verify the accuracy of the prescription, and ensure that the prescription is proper. Pharmacists shall personally offer to counsel each patient with new prescriptions, once a year with maintenance prescriptions, or if the pharmacist deems counseling is appropriate for refills.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a pharmacy error, you should immediately consult with an experienced lawyer.