We recently posted that pharmacists owe a duty of care to patients filling their prescriptions in Maryland pharmacies. Pharmacists owe a duty to accurately fill these prescriptions. Maryland law, however, increases the duty of care owed to Medicare pharmacy patients in the state by requiring pharmacists to offer to discuss issues pertaining to the prescription being filled. A Maryland pharmacist may be responsible for injuries that occur as a result of a failure to comply with this expanded duty of care.
In 1990, Congress passed legislation that increased the responsibilities of pharmacists with regard to Medicare recipients. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (the “OBRA”) required pharmacists to offer to educate individuals receiving Medicare on the medications that they are taking. Under federal law, a pharmacist’s patient counseling must address a number of topics designed to reduce the chance of prescription errors. In the OBRA, Congress also suggested that individual states develop their own laws that require pharmacists to educate consumers about the risks of medication errors pose.
Maryland’s legislature passed laws that increase a pharmacist’s duty of care in the state that helps protect patients from prescription errors. Under Maryland law, a pharmacist must offer to discuss information pertaining to a Medicare recipient’s prescription. A Maryland pharmacist must offer this consultation through face to face communication, or by way of pamphlets included within the prescription’s packaging, signs posted throughout the pharmacy, or communication by telephone. The topics addressed during the consultation may include the following:
1. the name and description of the medication;
2. how to take the medication;
3. any special directions and precautions for preparation, administration and use by the patient;
4. common severe side effects or drug interactions;
5. techniques for the patient to monitor the drug’s effectiveness;
6. proper drug storage;
7. prescription refill information; and
8. actions to be taken in the event of a missed dose.
However, the law does not make these consultations mandatory, and a patient may waive his or her right to talk with their pharmacist. The medication error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC suggest that our readers take full advantage of the protections provided by Maryland law and consult with their pharmacists when receiving their prescriptions.
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