Are Punitive Damages Available After a Maryland Pharmacy Error?

Most cases of pharmacy error involve negligent conduct and generally include careless mistakes. For this reason, punitive damages are rare in Maryland pharmacy error claims. Punitive damages are typically imposed to punish a defendant for their wrongful conduct and serve as a warning sign for others to dissuade them from engaging in such behavior.

In Maryland courts, to award punitive damages, a plaintiff has to show that a defendant acted with knowing and deliberate wrongdoing. A plaintiff must prove this by clear and convincing evidence—a higher standard than the preponderance of the evidence standard, which is generally applicable in civil cases. Thus, in many pharmacy error cases, punitive damages are not awarded because a plaintiff is unable to establish the defendant’s knowing and deliberate wrongdoing. The deliberate or intentional administration of the wrong drug is not a common occurrence. However, as a recent news report illustrates, it does occur.

Pharmacist Suspended After Purposely Giving Patient Wrong Drug

A pharmacist was recently suspended from practicing and fined after she purposely gave a patient the incorrect drug, according to one news source. Evidently, the pharmacist was working alone on a Saturday night, and a customer came in to fill a prescription for Suboxone for the patient’s opioid addiction. The pharmacist had already closed the safe where the drug was held and could not open it. The patient reportedly did not want to wait, and threatened to call the police. According to a report, the pharmacist became stressed and took some Apo-Prednisone pills and crushed them. Apo-Prednisone is commonly used to treat allergic reactions, arthritis, and severe asthma, among other conditions.

The patient took the medication and said that the powder felt different and tasted bitter. The pharmacist told him that it was Suboxone. The patient left but returned soon after, believing that he was given the wrong drug. The pharmacist again said that she gave him Suboxone, and later told another pharmacist the same. A review of surveillance tape revealed that the pharmacist had been unable to open the safe and instead gave the patient Apo-Prednisone.

The pharmacist had only recently begun practicing when the incident occurred. Once she can resume practicing after her 18-month suspension, she will not be able to own or run a pharmacy and requires direct supervision for at least six months. If the patient suffered harm, the incident might be the type that would warrant a punitive damages award.

Call a Maryland Pharmacy Error Attorney

The Maryland pharmacy error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, are dedicated to helping victims in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Our legal team is comprised of dedicated and aggressive attorneys who take pride in staying ahead of important cases, rules, and trends. We have decades of combined experience in personal injury lawsuits, as well as the necessary skills that you will need from a personal injury law firm that can effectively and correctly handle your case. Call us today at (800) 654-1949 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.

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