Pharmacy and Prescription Errors
Pharmacy errors have been so rampant in Florida and elsewhere that in May 2008, the Florida Legislature passed the Pharmacy Technician Act.
The Pharmacy Technician Act is presently being phased in. It is aimed at preventing the types of pharmaceutical errors committed by inexperienced and unsupervised techs by tightening their training and supervision. In recent years pharmacy technicians had been hired in place of a licensed pharmacist, a cost-cutting move that’s resulted in several high-profile deaths from medication errors, attributed directly to the inexperience of the pharmacy technician.
The family of Beth Hippely of Lakeland, Florida, sued Walgreens after a pharmacy technician gave Hippely a prescription for ten times the dosage her doctor has prescribed of warfarin. The blood thinner caused a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Hippely survived, but eventually her cancer returned since she was disabled and in a nursing home and could no longer be treated for cancer.
An inexperienced pharmacy tech typed up the wrong instruction for Terry Paul Smith, 46. Suffering from chronic pain, his prescription for methadone said “as needed.” His doctor prescribed four pills a day. Smith died 36 hours later from methadone toxicity after he took 22 pills that day.
The state Board of Pharmacy receives about 600 complaints a year against pharmacies and just as many against individual pharmacists.
Both Hippely and Smith lost their lives from preventable pharmacy errors.
By 2011, pharmacy techs have to complete an additional 1,500 hours of training working under a licensed Florida pharmacist, or receive certification by an accredited program.
Besides human error, prescription drug errors can occur when:
- The pharmacy gives you the wrong prescription with a similar name
- When your medical provider does not note your drug allergies
- When a drug interacts with another you are taking
- When the doctor is not familiar with the drug he is prescribing
- When the prescriber’s handwriting is so intelligible it cannot be read
- When the doctor fails to adjust the medication dosage as the patient’s condition changes
Estimates are up to five percent of prescriptions filled are incorrect and that doctors make about four prescription errors for every one-thousand prescriptions they write.
Unfortunately, children have a three times higher potential for adverse drug events. Infants in a neonatal unit have an even higher rate.
While many prescription errors cause no harm, or are caught by the patient, other errors can lead to serious injury and death. Personal injury damages can cause further hospitalization, medical bills, pain and suffering.
What can a patient do? Patients play a vital role in catching prescription errors before they do harm.
First, read the prescription out loud to the doctor and ask for confirmation. Write it down including the dosage and confirm that with the doctor. When you see your pharmacist, confirm that the prescription you have been issued is what you were prescribed. Obtain your medication though a local pharmacy, not over the internet. The pharmacist will be able to answer any additional questions you have about drug interactions and the medication you are taking.
Contact a Jacksonville FL Pharmacy Error Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a prescription error, our Jacksonville pharmaceutical litigation attorneys are here to help you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.