More than 2.5 billion prescriptions are dispensed by pharmacies across the country every year, with about 0.1% (2.4 million) of these prescriptions filled improperly. Statistics on annual deaths due to erroneous prescriptions range from 44,000 to 98,000. This means that between 120 and 268 people die every day due to errors in medical prescriptions.
Medical prescription errors can be caused by a several factors; from unrealistic workloads to work distractions and inadequate technician assistance. Also, with so many distractions it is possible to confuse two different drugs if they have near similar names and/or packaging.
A study by the Pharmacist Mutual Insurance Company found that 52% of prescription errors involve the wrong drug being dispensed, 27% involve the wrong strength being prescribed, and 7.4% involve wrong directions. The research further found that about 8% of errors that reached the patient were filled correctly, but after doing everything right, the drug was placed in the wrong bag.
As you may already be aware, any pharmacist who fills a prescription may be held responsible for incorrect filling if the prescription causes an injury or death. Moreover, any technical or clerical co-worker of that
pharmacist who is found to have failed to act appropriately within the set standards of care can be potentially liable. As if that’s not enough, the employing pharmacy can also be held liable for the injury or death caused by the employee, within the scope of employment.
In Georgia, every pharmacy is required to counsel with customers regarding their prescriptions and potential side effects. Often, this is done hurriedly or not done altogether. A pharmacist can be held liable for recommending a drug to a patient if that drug causes harm to the patient. On the same note, pharmacists have an obligation to detect and act appropriately regarding combinations of drugs that are likely to cause harm to the patient. Pharmacists also have a duty to recognize when a prescription by the physician is outside of normal dosages recommended by the drug manufacturer.
What can I do?
There are several things that can be done to reduce drug prescription errors. The most important thing is for everyone involved; the patient, the physician, and pharmacist, to take every step to ensure that the right drugs are
If you or your loved one has been involved in pharmacy malpractice, you’ll need a pharmacy malpractice lawyer. Richard D. Hobbs & Associates can help.