Recovering Compensation For Prescription Errors

In the past decade, the number of injuries caused by prescription errors made by a hospital or stand-alone pharmacies has increased exponentially. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Patient Safety Network, patients who are injured because of exposure to medication, or so-called adverse drug events (ADE), account for almost 700,000 visits to the emergency room and approximately 100,000 hospitalizations annually. Individuals who have suffered injuries because of prescription errors may be able to obtain compensation for their injuries from negligent health care providers.

In Walgreen Co. v. Hippely, 29 So. 3d 305 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2010), a woman in Florida provided a prescription for blood thinners to a local pharmacy to be filled. However, the pharmacy technician mistakenly gave the woman 10 times the prescribed amount of the drug that the woman should have received. As a result, the woman's blood thinned out to the point of brain bleeding, and she went into a coma. While the woman later emerged from her coma, she was only able to communicate by blinking her eyes and was required to relearn how to walk, eat and speak. The woman's husband sued the pharmacy, alleging that it was negligent in the incident. The jury, in this case, heard evidence that the pharmacy technician responsible for filling the woman's prescription had little training. Later on, the woman was diagnosed with cancer and, because of complications from her pharmaceutical injuries, she was unable to get chemotherapy and died. Therefore, the plaintiffs included a wrongful death charge in the lawsuit. After the trial, the jury found that the pharmacy was negligent and that its error caused a cerebral hemorrhage that resulted in permanent disability, pain and death. The jury awarded the plaintiff $25.8 million in damages. Walgreens appealed, and the Third District Court of Appeal of Florida affirmed the jury verdict.

There are several possible errors that pharmacists commit in dispensing prescribed medication that may cause injuries for which they are liable. Pharmacists have a duty to ensure that they administer the right dose to patients. This obligation extends to prescriptions where a doctor may have prescribed the wrong medication or the wrong dosage. Pharmacies must verify that the physician ordered the correct medicine and prescribed the right amount for the patient. In fact, in Oleckna v. Daytona Discount Pharmacy, the Fifth District Court of Appeal of Florida stated that a pharmacist's duty of due care in filling prescriptions extends to acting as a check on the prescribing doctors. According to the court, in that case, pharmacists must perform an individual evaluation of the reasonableness of prescriptions, including frequency, quantity, combination with other drugs, or dosage.

Another common error that pharmacies commit is the improper labeling of medication or providing the wrong instructions. Finally, pharmacies must advise patients about potential adverse interactions that prescribed medication may have with other medicines and with particular foods. Pharmacies must also provide information about possible side effects.

The law firm of Greenberg Stone & Urbano has extensive experience in representing clients against pharmacies and other health care providers for prescription errors. In one case, Stewart Greenberg from our law firm represented plaintiffs who sued a CVS pharmacy in Boca Raton, Florida, multiple times for prescription errors on behalf of injured plaintiffs, namely, improper filling and dispensation of incorrect medication to its customers. The plaintiffs, in this case, alleged that the pharmacy in question, a CVS store in Boca Raton, Florida, provided an elderly woman, who was in recovery from recent major surgery and was taking some prescribed medications, with a powerful and dangerous anticonvulsant medication her doctor did not prescribe to her. The plaintiff suffered adverse symptoms and severe side effects from the wrong medication and her recuperation from surgery was hampered. In another suit, a plaintiff sued the same CVS pharmacy with the help of Greenberg Stone & Urbano, alleging the pharmacy negligently gave her blood pressure lowering medication, even though her prescription from her doctor was for medicine to raise her abnormally low blood pressure. The plaintiff required medical attention after the pharmacy provided her with the wrong medication. In earlier cases against the same pharmacy, the plaintiffs needed medical care as well.

The prescription errors that the Boca Raton CVS committed took place less than four months apart, which attorney Stewart Greenberg, who filed the lawsuits, says is cause for concern. Greenberg stated that any time a court sees apparent errors made within such a short amount of time, such a pattern is a source of concern. These repeated instances send up red flags that may indicate there is a larger, systemic problem in the pharmacy in question.

According to Greenberg, the firm's top concern for its clients is to ensure their health and well-being. To that end, the firm will do whatever is necessary to ensure that its clients will fully recover and that their rights are adequately protected. Additionally, the firm warns that a pattern of multiple serious prescription drug errors occurring at the same pharmacy should serve as a warning to consumers regarding the potential problem there. The firm encourages consumers to check their prescriptions with due care and caution and ask their pharmacists questions, regardless of the pharmacy where they have prescriptions filled, but especially if a particular pharmacy has a growing history of making prescription errors.

Greenberg Stone & Urbano is an experienced personal injury law firm in Florida. We have decades of combined experience pursuing claims on behalf of injured clients in a wide variety of cases, including prescription errors and medical malpractice. If you believe you have been injured as a result of a pharmacy's or other health care provider's negligence, you should contact Stewart Greenberg in our firm's Miami office to explore your options and protect your rights under the law. Our office in Miami is located at 11440 N Kendall Drive, Suite 400, Miami, FL 33176. You may also call us at 786-408-8973 and or visit our website for more information at http://www.sgglaw.com/.