Pharmacies and pharmacists at locations such as CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart in Myrtle Beach owe duties of care to their customers. They are legally responsible to fill prescriptions in such a manner that the health and safety of their customers. Pharmacists and pharmacies are required to follow strict state and federal regulations that cover almost all aspects of their business operations. The pharmacy is required to ensure the safety and quality of their customers’ prescriptions from the time that they receive them until when the customers leave the stores and take the medications that they have been given. When a pharmacist or pharmacy is negligent during any stage of the process, customers may suffer catastrophic injuries or death. If you have suffered severe injuries or have lost a loved one because of a prescription misfill, the attorneys at the Lovely Law Firm might help you to recover damages to pay for your losses.
Types of prescription misfill errors
A prescription misfill occurs when a pharmacist fills a prescription with the wrong medication or dosage. This type of medication error involves the pharmacy when it fills and dispenses a prescription. Some common types of pharmacy errors that occur include the following:
- Incorrect dosage
- Incorrect drug
- Wrong patient
- Lack of instructions for use and interactions
- Failures to identify dangerous drug interactions
Pharmacy Times identifies five medications that have the highest risk of misfills, including the following:
- Opioids and narcotics
- Antipsychotic drugs
The most common misfill error was the wrong dosage, followed by the wrong prescription and the wrong patient. These types of errors can cause catastrophic injuries and deaths.
Liability for a misfill
In a misfill case, the first step in recovering compensation is to identify all of the parties who are potentially liable. Multiple parties may be partially liable when a prescription error occurs. The pharmacy such as CVS, Walmart, or Walgreens may hold liability. The pharmacist who made the mistake may also be liable. The party or parties who were the most responsible for causing the patient’s illness, injury, or death will be liable. The following types of errors can lead to drug misfills:
- Failing to understand the prescription
- Not providing directions for the proper use
- Poor safety measures or procedures at the pharmacy
- Communication failures between employees
- Mixing up medical abbreviations or drug names
- Poor training
- Lack of knowledge
Drug misfills can occur because of how a doctor writes a prescription or how a pharmacist fills the order. They can also happen because of the pharmacy’s mistake. As pharmacist workloads have increased, the likelihood of errors occurring has likewise increased. Having too many prescriptions to fill along with other job duties can lead to mistakes. South Carolina also has vicarious liability laws that make employers liable for the negligent actions of their employees when they are working on the job. This means that it is often possible to sue both a negligent pharmacist and the pharmacy when a misfill error occurs.
Element of a pharmacy negligence claim involving a misfill
Pharmacists have a legal duty to follow a doctor’s instructions for prescriptions. Under the South Carolina Pharmacy Practice Act, pharmacies must keep records of all of the prescription drugs a patient has had prescribed at their locations for the last two years. The pharmacists are responsible for checking these records, warning the patients of potential interactions, and offering to consult with them about their medications. To prove a claim of pharmacy negligence, a patient or a family member of a deceased patient will need to prove the following elements:
- The pharmacy, pharmacist, or other defendant owed a duty of care to the patient.
- The defendants breached their duties of care.
- The breaches caused the misfill-related injury or death.
- The plaintiff suffered compensable harm.
Proving each of these elements is required to have a valid claim for negligence. If the defendant is the pharmacy under a theory of vicarious liability, the plaintiff will need to prove that the pharmacist or other employee was negligent and that the defendant was working in the scope and course of his or her employment at the time the negligent misfill occurred.
Types of injuries that can occur because of a misfill error
Drug misfills can be dangerous because of how the body reacts to different medications. Some people need their prescription drugs to survive. Prescription medications for certain conditions such as high blood pressure, seizures, cancer, or diabetes must be filled exactly as prescribed to prevent potential harm or death. In some cases, prescription drugs are preventative. Taking the wrong drugs in these types of situations can hurt the patient’s future prognosis. While medication-related injuries can vary, prescription misfills commonly involve the following types of injuries:
- Blood clots
- Congestive heart failure
- Allergic reactions
- Drug interactions
- Dangerous side effects
Prescription misfills can have devastating impacts on the lives of the patients. Mistakes can result in patient deaths. If a patient receives the wrong medication or dosage, he or she can suffer severe injuries and complications.
Damages from a drug misfill claim
The damages that you might receive will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case and the severity of the injuries that resulted. Some of the potential damages might include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Past and future income losses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of consortium for spouses
- Funeral and burial expenses in wrongful death claims
- Lost inheritance rights in wrongful death claims
Depending on the nature of the error, it may be possible to recover punitive damages. These are generally only given in cases in which the defendants’ actions were particularly egregious.
What to do
If you believe that you or your loved one were given the wrong dose or prescription because of a pharmacy mistake, save the medication bottle, its contents, and the packaging. Write down the name of the pharmacist who was on duty and the name of the pharmacy when and where the prescription was filled. Keep the receipt for the medication, and gather evidence of the injuries that occurred. You should gather your medical records, time losses from work, receipts for your related out-of-pocket expenses, and your medical bills.
The attorneys at The Lovely Law Firm can assist you in gathering the evidence that you need to show the pharmacy’s mistake and the evidence of your injuries. We can negotiate on your behalf with the headquarters of the pharmacy to try to reach a fair settlement agreement with the company’s insurance provider. If the negotiations do not result in a fair settlement offer, our lawyers are prepared to file a formal lawsuit with the courts of South Carolina.
If you have been seriously injured or have lost your loved one because you were given the wrong prescription or because of another type of misfill error, you need to retain an attorney. Contact the legal team at The Lovely Law Firm in Myrtle Beach to schedule a consultation by calling 843.839.4111.