Getting a prescription filled is simple. Your doctor hands you a paper with the drug name and dosage — or these days perhaps sends it electronically straight to your pharmacy — and you go to the pharmacy, where trained professionals count out pills into a bottle. They’re supposed to have the expertise to make sure you get the right pills at the right dosage in the right numbers and with the right labels.
But what happens when the pharmacy gets it wrong? You may end up seriously ill because of a pharmacist’s mix-up. Sometimes getting the wrong drug or the wrong dosage could even be fatal, and the tragic part is that many pharmacy errors are preventable.
If you or a family member have experienced a medication error that resulted in complications requiring additional medical care beyond the underlying condition the drug was intended to treat, you may have a malpractice claim. You may be able to recover your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering that you experienced because of negligence by the pharmacist or pharmacy staff. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can discuss with you what happened, how it harmed you, and your options for pursuing a malpractice claim.
Common Types of Pharmacy Errors
Errors involving prescription drugs are a common form of malpractice, affecting millions of Americans each year. When a mistake is made at the pharmacy, it’s often in one of these forms:
- Dispensing the Wrong Drug — The pharmacy gives you a different drug than the one on the prescription from your doctor.
- Dispensing the Wrong Dose — The pharmacy gives you the wrong strength of the medication. Too small a dose could mean your underlying condition gets worse and you have to seek additional treatment, while too much of the drug could cause negative side effects that require treatment.
- Mislabeling the Drug — The pharmacy may put the right drug in the bottle, but apply the wrong label. When that happens, you won’t have the correct instructions for taking the prescription even though it’s the right drug to treat your health condition. That could result in either inadequate treatment of your illness or condition, or negative side effects because you end up getting the dosage or frequency wrong.
- Dispensing Unsafe Drugs — This could involve giving you medication that has expired and lost effectiveness and causes your medical condition to worsen, or giving you a medication that the pharmacy should foresee might cause an adverse reaction in you.
Consequences of Pharmacy Errors
When a pharmacy gives you the wrong drugs, the wrong dosage, or mislabels your prescription, there can be very serious consequences for you. You may experience
Drug Interactions — When two or more prescriptions you’re taking combine in a way that harms you or makes you sick, or when one drug negates the beneficial effects of another drug. Pharmacists should be cautious when dispensing medication that they’re not giving you something that will react badly with other medication you take. If the pharmacist dispenses the wrong drug or mislabels the prescription bottle, you could end up experiencing a bad drug interaction.
Allergic Reactions — Some people will have bad reactions to medications because of allergies, such as an allergy to penicillin or an allergy to some ingredient in the medication. If you’re given the wrong medication, you could unknowingly end up taking something to which you have an allergy. Allergic reactions to drugs can be very serious and painful.
Adverse Reactions — If you’re given the wrong drug or the wrong dosage of a drug, or the drug dispensed to you was expired or otherwise not fit for consumption, you could end up experiencing harmful side effects that make you sick or cause damage to your body.
If you have been hurt or injured because of a pharmacy error, you may have a medical malpractice claim. An experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer can help determine if you do.