New York City Pharmacy Mistakes Lawyer
Already, there are more than 10,000 pharmaceutical drugs on the market, and new drugs are coming on-line every day. So many medications these days look the same or sound the same, yet they are intended to treat completely different medical conditions. As consumers and patients, how do we know if our prescription was filled correctly at the pharmacy or not? Pharmacists know more than anyone how complex and confusing their world is, as well as the danger of making mistakes. Nevertheless, it is estimated that medication errors harm one and a half million people in the U.S. every year.
New York City medical malpractice attorney Michael Gunzburg holds pharmacists and pharmacies accountable when their negligence or incompetence causes injury through a misfilled prescription or other mistake. If your trip to the pharmacy in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn or Queens ended in disaster, call our NYC pharmacy mistake lawyer Michael Gunzburg, P.C., for a free consultation regarding your right to compensation for the damage done by a pharmacy mistake.
Pharmacists Owe a Duty of Care to Their Customers
Some years ago, the National Institutes of Health conducted a large-scale study, looking at more than 140,000 prescriptions filled over seven months. This survey turned up over 5,000 errors made by the pharmacy techs, with more than one out of every five mistakes going undetected by the pharmacist in charge. About a quarter of these undetected errors were potentially adverse drug events, with over a fourth of those thought to be serious or life-threatening.
Pharmacists are licensed healthcare professionals with doctoral degrees. As such, they are held to a standard of care equal to the education and training of other members of their profession. Failing to perform their duties according to these standards amounts to malpractice, and just like medical doctors, doctors of pharmacy can be held liable for injuries caused by their mistakes.
Here are just a few of the duties that can reasonably be expected of a pharmacist:
- Review the prescription for accuracy as it is being filled
- Consult with the prescribing doctor as needed
- Check the prescribed medication against information in the patient’s file regarding drug allergies, health history and other medications the patient is taking for adverse reactions, interactions or contraindications.
- Supervise pharmacy technicians who are filling prescriptions. Review and approve filled prescriptions before they are given to the customer.
What Kinds of Mistakes Do Pharmacists Make?
Filling a prescription with the wrong drug is the most common pharmacy mistake, making up about half of all pharmacy errors. There are only so many shapes and colors a pill can come in, so many medications can look virtually identical. And although the possibility of drug names is theoretically endless, manufacturers choose names based on marketing appeal, so it’s not surprising that many medications have similar-sounding names. As just one example, consider three drugs on the market today: Celebrex, Cerebyx and Celexa. Do you know which one relieves inflammation, which one treats depression, and which one controls seizures? More importantly, does the pharmacy technician filling your prescription? Doctors’ handwriting is notoriously bad, and neither you nor the pharmacist may be able to tell what drug you are supposed to be on.
The next major mistake at the pharmacy involves filling the prescription with the right medication but the wrong dose. These mistakes happen when a hurried pharmacy tech picks up the wrong bottle off the shelf, or when the pharmacist switches the delivery method to satisfy a customer request or based on what is in stock without adjusting the dose. Strengths can differ depending on the drug delivery method (liquid, pill, tablet, capsule, inhalant), and the pharmacist may need to adjust the dosage accordingly. As the consumer, it can be even harder for you to know when this type of mistake was made. If you see the right name on the bottle, you might just assume the dose is correct. A wrong dose can cause serious harm, from an overdose to not enough medication to treat a serious condition.
The third leading pharmacy error involves the pharmacist giving bad advice or the wrong directions concerning the medicine you are getting. Doctors’ offices are often very busy, and your doctor might not have a lot of time to go over the medicine with you, how to take it, etc. Patients rely on the pharmacist as an expert on prescriptions and the last person they have to talk to before taking the drug. The pharmacist should ask you at the pharmacy if you have any questions and go over any special instructions with you, as well as answer any questions you might have. Typical questions when starting a new medicine include:
- When do I take this medicine?
- How long should I keep taking it?
- Do I take it with food or on an empty stomach? In the morning or at bedtime?
- Does it need to be refrigerated?
- What should I do if I miss a dose? Take it as soon as possible, double up the next time, or just skip a dose?
- Should I avoid any foods or drinks while on this medication? What about my other medicines? Are there any activities I should avoid, such as driving, making important decisions, or exercising?
Help Recovering From Pharmacy Mistakes in New York City
If you are already receiving treatment for a serious medical condition, it can be hard to know whether a pharmacist’s mistake has made you worse or caused some additional illness or harm. In New York City, bring your concerns to Michael Gunzburg, P.C. for a free consultation. We’ll work to figure out what went wrong and why, and we’ll fight for compensation to help you deal with the injuries inflicted on you. In Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn or Queens, call 212-725-8500 to speak with a dedicated and successful New York medical malpractice lawyer.