Pharmacy Errors are a Major Cause of Malpractice Lawsuits

Pharmacy Error

Nearly 4 billion outpatient prescriptions will be dispensed in the U.S. in 2020, and billions more will be filled by inpatient hospitals and clinics. The increasing number and complexity of prescription medications, coupled with countless over-the-counter medicines and health supplements, has significantly raised the risks of pharmacy errors in both community and hospital settings. Not surprisingly, medication mistakes are a leading cause of mortality and a frequent cause of malpractice lawsuits in the US.

It is estimated that each year 7,000 to 9,000 people die as a result of a medication error and hundreds of thousands of other patients experience adverse reactions or other complications. According to one study, fatal medication errors most often involve cardiovascular drugs, drugs that affect the central nervous system, and antibiotics. The most common types of medication administration errors (MAEs) are medication omissions, followed by administration of a wrong dose or wrong strength of medication. Anticoagulant drugs like warfarin and heparin, and opioid analgesics such as Dilaudid and morphine, were some of the main offenders.

Pharmacists play a triple-role in the dispensing continuum by interpreting the prescriber’s request, evaluating each prescription for appropriateness and patient-specific variables, and ultimately assuring that the correct medication is given to the patient. Since each of these safety points is mission-critical for patient care and medication management, malpractice claims can involve any element. For example, a pharmacist may be liable for not dispensing the medication or dose as prescribed by the healthcare provider or for giving a patient the medication as prescribed without recognizing that the provider made a mistake.

The reasons for pharmacist errors may include distractions, unclear handwriting, medical abbreviations, drugs with similar names or appearances, failure to consider the patient’s age, health, other medications or supplements taken, problems with electronic health records, and other issues. While nurses and pharmacists identify anywhere from 30% to 70% of medication-ordering errors, thousands of mistakes are still made every year, which may result in malpractice claims against pharmacists.

Community Pharmacy and Hospital Pharmacy expert witnesses are crucial in litigation involving medication errors resulting from the alleged negligence of pharmacists. Pharmacy experts can testify in cases involving all types of errors in the dispensing process as well as and in recognizing potential problems associated with drug interactions, duplications, dosage errors, warnings, and contraindications.

If you are evaluating claims of pharmacy errors, contact Elite Medical Experts for assistance in finding nationally recognized university experts for your case.

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