Earlier this month in New Zealand, a man died from a preventable and accidental overdose of rheumatoid arthritis medication, a doctor’s error that went undetected by the pharmacist who filled the prescription. According to a report by a local New Zealand news source, the man had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years and had been on this exact medication previously. However, he had to be taken off the medication when his liver function started to decrease. Since then, he had been re-prescribed the medication after his liver function returned to normal.
Evidently, the prescribing doctor made the first mistake, prescribing the medication to be taken daily rather than weekly as it should have been prescribed. When the man took the prescription to his local pharmacy, the pharmacist transcribed the prescription exactly as the doctor wrote it, instructing the man to take the medication daily.
Shortly after he began taking the medication, he noticed severe adverse side effects, such as mouth ulcers, a sore throat, and an abnormal blood count. When he went to have his symptoms checked out, he was diagnosed with methotrexate toxicity, a result of an overdose of the rheumatoid arthritis medication.
The man was taken to the hospital and admitted into the intensive care unit, but due to his severe condition he was not a candidate for surgery. He passed away the next day.
Pharmacists Are Supposed to Catch Doctor’s Errors
One of the main jobs of a pharmacist is to check and double-check all prescriptions that they fill to make sure that the medication is being prescribed appropriately. While the initial error in this case was the doctor’s, the pharmacist is also to blame for not catching the doctor’s mistake. Indeed, the coroner who performed the man’s autopsy listed the death as “preventable.”
Liability for Pharmacy Errors
This incident took place in New Zealand, where they have their own laws regarding pharmacy error cases. However, tragic accidents like this happen hundreds of times each year in the United States.
In these types of cases, accident victims or their families (if the victim is deceased) can bring suit against any person or organization they feel is responsible for their injuries or loss. It is then the judge’s and jury’s job to determine who is financially responsible to the plaintiff. In most cases, it benefits a plaintiff to name all potentially liable parties from the outset to avoid additional delay later in the process. For example, in the case above the family of the deceased man may wish to name the prescribing doctor, the clinic, or the hospital employing the doctor, as well as the pharmacist and the pharmacy in any cause of action.
Have You Been Injured by a Pharmacist’s Mistake?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a pharmacist’s error, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the specific situation, the pharmacist may be only one person in a chain of people who failed to exercise the proper care required of the profession. If this is the case, all additional parties can likely be named in the suit. To learn more, contact a dedicated pharmacy error attorney by clicking here, or by calling 410-654-3600 today.
More Blog Posts:
Parents Have a Hard Time When Dosing Children’s Medication Because of Metric-System Conversion, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, July 30, 2014.
Confusing Drug Names May Lead to More Prescription Drug Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, August 20, 2014.