Pharmacist malpractice is more common than some might think. The Food and Drug Administration has received over 30,000 complaints of pharmacy malpractice sine 1992.[1]

And, more people who believe they were injured by pharmacist error hire an attorney than complain to the FDA. According to the FDA, “[t]hese are voluntary reports, so the number of medication errors that actually occur is thought to be much higher.”[2]

A pharmacist must properly fill prescriptions.  Sometimes pharmacists do not.

Wrong medication.

A doctor prescribed 260 milligrams of the chemotherapy drug Taxol. The pharmacist filled the prescription with 260 milligrams of a different chemotherapy drug, Taxotere. The two chemotherapy drugs require different dosages and are for different kinds of cancer. The patient died.[3]

Wrong dosage.

Methotrexate in a daily dosage is typically used to treat cancer, while in weekly dosage it is used for other conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease. A pharmacist wrongly gave an elderly patient a daily dosage. The patient died of overdose.[4]

A prescription called for 20 units of insulin, written as “20 U.”  The “U” was mistaken for another zero, and the prescription was filled for 200 units of insulin. The patient died of overdose.[5]

Washington pharmacy malpractice law.

Under Washington state law, pharmacists are considered medical providers, and can be liable for medical malpractice in the same way a doctor could be liable for medical malpractice.[6]  The standard of care for a pharmacist is the degree of care, skill, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent pharmacist licensed in Washington.[7]

Pharmacists should warn of obvious wrong dosages, inadequate instructions, known contraindications, or incompatible prescriptions. Pharmacists do not always have a duty to warn under the “learned intermediary” doctrine—although in those circumstances the pharmaceutical company, the prescribing doctor, or both may have a duty to warn.

If you believe you may have experienced pharmacist malpractice you should seek a free personal injury case evaluation.

 

[1] See the FDA website at http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143553.htm (last accessed 2/27/16).

[2] See http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143553.htm.

[3] See http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143553.htm.

[4] See http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143553.htm.

[5] See http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143553.htm.

[6] RCW 7.70.020.

[7] McKee v. American Home Products, Corp., 113 Wn.2d 701, 782 P.2d 1045 (1989).