How often do you question your pharmacist? Chances are that you don’t do that very often. Pharmacists are medical professionals that we automatically trust. Most of us do not question their authority or abilities. Unfortunately, people are prescribed the wrong amount of medication by doctors every day. Studies conducted in 2006 indicate that 1.5% to 9.8% of all filled prescriptions in the country were filled in error. Consider that percentage on a national level. All it takes is a little less or more of something and things become a matter of life and death.
A misfill happens when pharmacists make a mistake in reviewing the doctor’s prescription, dispensing the correct medication, or misprinting the label instructions. There has been controversy in a number of misfill cases as to what the pharmacist’s job entails. For years, pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies were not held accountable for warning patients about the side-effects or risks of their medications. Pharmaceutical companies did not have a “duty of warn” when distributing medication. In 1987 however, a young boy was prescribed theophylline for his asthma. He was later prescribed a child form of erythromycin. Erythomycin interacts with theophylline by increasing theophylline levels, but the doctor did not decrease the child’s theophylline dosage. As a result, the child experienced a series of seizures causing him to sustain severe neurological damage.
What the court decided in this case is that the pharmaceutical company had an obligation to a) check the patient record for pertinent patient information before dispensing prescription medication, and b) make recommendations regarding drug therapy to the physician, patient, or other person involved with patient care.
Those two points are from the list of Standards of Practice of the American Pharmaceutical Association and American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.
It looks like the pharmacy had the duty of warn now, doesn’t it?
Come to find out, the pharmacy not only failed to advise the parents of side-effects and risks associated with taking both meds but failed to maintain a patient record for the child! The pharmacist couldn’t have advised the parents if he or she wanted to. A patient history didn’t exist.
With that in mind, be sure that your medical providers and professionals are on the same page about your therapy. If you have questions regarding pharmacy law, visit the American Society for Pharmacy Law’s website or give us a call. If you suspect that you’ve suffered from pharmaceutical negligence, please contact us.