Medication Mistakes

Whose Fault is It?

A Guttlaw Report TM

Both the doctor who writes prescriptions and the pharmacy which fills them have the legal responsibility to do so with due care. If a patient is hurt because he or she is given the wrong medication, either the pharmacy or the doctor, or both of them, may be responsible for the harm caused.

If a doctor responsible for writing a prescription does it unclearly and causes the pharmacist to fill it incorrectly, the doctor may be at fault for any resulting harm. But the pharmacist may also be at fault if the prescription is one which a reasonable pharmacist should have known was incorrect and the pharmacist filled it anyway. For example, the pharmacist knows that the patient has severe high blood pressure and the medication which has been prescribed is contraindicated (not appropriate) for high blood pressure patients. Instead of contacting the doctor to be certain, the pharmacist fills the prescription anyway and the patient suffers a stroke as a result of taking the medication. Both the doctor and the pharmacist may be liable in this case.

As another example, the patient is treating with three doctors, for different medical conditions. One doctor prescribes a medication which has a potentially bad interaction with another medication the patient is taking. If the pharmacist knows about both medications because they are regularly purchased by the patient at that location, then the pharmacy may be liable. In addition, the doctor is responsible for determining what drugs the patient is on and taking known drug interactions into account.

The doctor may also be liable for overprescribing or underprescribing a medication, if the patient is harmed by the prescription.

QUESTION: HOW CAN WE PROTECT OURSELVES?

Information is the best protection against an inappropriate prescription. Always ask your doctor and your pharmacist about any new medication. Always make sure that the pharmacy gives you pills of the same color, shape and size as the previous pills you were provided under the same prescription. If you have any questions, both your doctor and your pharmacist should answer them clearly. There are also many resources in the public library and on the Internet which will allow you to safely determine whether the drugs you are being prescribed are appropriate. Remember, if a pill or medication looks different to you, it probably is different. This should always raise concern in your mind. Being an educated, careful consumer is the best way to ensure that modern pharmaceutical miracles help you and don't hurt you. But if you or a loved one has been hurt, you will need legal counsel to protect your rights.

Proving your case is the job of an experienced law firm like Rubin Guttman & Associates, L.P.A. We have been representing injured people hurt by medical malpractice or serious accidents for 32 years and would welcome the opportunity to have you consult with us. (For a free consultation and review of your case, please feel free to call us at 216 696-4006).

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