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What Is Pharmaceutical Malpractice?

Posted in Medical Malpractice on June 15, 2016

The medical professionals who tend to your health have an obligation to serve you to the best of their abilities. When we think of malpractice, we most often refer to the doctors and nurses who provide you with health care, but what most people do not realize is that your pharmacist is also capable of committing malpractice.

Pharmaceutical Malpractice: A Primer

A pharmacist is a critical member of your health care team. When your doctor writes a prescription, it is his or her job to ensure the new medication doesn’t interfere with any other medications you take. When we refer to malpractice as a whole, we are talking about any action in which a professional fails to take appropriate cautions or provide “reasonable care.” A medical professional who doesn’t act reasonably under the circumstances has committed negligence. Most pharmaceutical malpractice lawsuits fall under one of the following four categories.

Defective Drug Recalls

The Food and Drug Administration regulates prescription medications. Before the organization clears a medicine for consumer use, the drug must undergo years of testing and clinical trials to ensure its efficacy and safety. Unfortunately, drug companies sometimes rush their medicines to the market without conducting appropriate testing. When this happens, patients bear the brunt of unforeseen side effects. The Food and Drug Administration issues recalls when it finds a prescription medication is inherently dangerous or can lead to serious side effects. Unfortunately, by the time the agency issues a recall, the damage has likely happened. If you have been hurt by taking a drug that is later recalled, you may be a candidate for a pharmaceutical malpractice case.

Side Effects of Prescription Drugs

You may also be a candidate for a pharmaceutical malpractice suit if you have been a victim of unforeseen side effects from a prescription drug, either in the short or long term. Drug companies perform clinical trials before their products hit the market, but a three-year clinical trial may not anticipate long-term side effects from taking a medication. Some of the more serious side effects may not be apparent until 10 years after beginning to take the medication. For example, recent research reveals that long-term use of proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec, can lead to kidney damage.

Prescription drugs can lead to many unforeseen short-term effects, as well. If a pharmacist dispenses a medication without properly consulting your history, drugs may negatively interact and lead to injury.

Pharmacist Errors

Even if a drug company has tested the medication rigorously and finds it completely safe, you can be at risk for injury due to human error. Pharmacists are trained health care providers and have a duty to exercise reasonable care. When another professional would have acted differently in the same circumstances, a pharmacist may be guilty of negligence. Common forms of pharmacist negligence include:

  • Drugs that are mislabeled and dispensed to a patient erroneously.
  • A pharmaceutical assistant may fill the wrong prescriptions—which can look similar but perform completely different functions—and cause an injury.
  • A pharmacist may dispense a medication that contains potential allergens to a patient with known allergies.
  • A pharmacist may fill the correct prescription, but at the wrong dose.

There are numerous ways a medical professional can commit pharmaceutical negligence. If you think a medication has injured you, an experienced attorney can help. Talk to a member of our compassionate legal team today by taking advantage of our free initial consultation. We will help you decide on your next steps and get recourse from the parties responsible for your injuries. Do not pay for someone else’s negligence—get in touch with us today. You only pay if we win.