Pharmacy errors frequently occur in retail pharmacies in Maryland and throughout the country. These errors are recognized as common, and experts are always coming up with new ways to reduce them. However, Maryland pharmacy errors involving mail-order prescriptions are infrequently discussed and they raise the very same concerns as retail pharmacy errors. Without having to hand a prescription to a patient in person, a prescription can be addressed and mailed to the wrong person. In a recent federal appeals court decision, the court held that the pharmacy may still be held liable in the case of an elderly patient who failed to read the labels on the medication bottles before taking the medications.
In that case, the mother was mistakenly mailed prescription medications by a mail-order pharmacy contractor. A pharmacy put in an order for prescriptions to be sent to a customer, but the contractor mistakenly shipped the package to the plaintiff’s mother. She regularly received medications by mail, and the package at issue was similar to other packages she had received. The outside of the package had the mother’s name and address, but the bottles of medication listed the other patient’s name, doctor, and medication. The mother was elderly and “barely literate,” and did not read the labels before she took the pills.
After taking the pills, the mother started to experience hallucinations and confusion. She fell and fractured her leg a few days later. She was hospitalized for the fracture, and stayed in the hospital for almost a month. She was treated for other medical issues that arose during her stay, and she died about ten days after she was discharged from the hospital.
The mother’s son filed a claim on behalf of his mother’s estate against the defendants. He filed claims on the basis of negligence, negligence per se, and breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, as well as vicarious liability against the pharmacy. The trial court found the claims were barred because the court found the mother was contributorily negligent, which barred her recovery under state law.
The appeals court reversed in part, holding that whether the mother was contributorily negligent was a matter for a jury to decide. In addition, although the trial court found that the mother’s daughter told her not to take the medication, she did so the day after the package arrived, and there was evidence that the mother took the medications the same day they were delivered. Finally, whether the mother’s ingestion of the pills was the cause of her death was also a matter for a jury to decide. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment on the basis of contributory negligence and causation, and remanded the case to the trial court.
Have You or a Loved One Suffered Been the Victim of Pharmacy Error?
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a Maryland pharmacy error, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The Maryland pharmacy error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC represent plaintiffs in pharmacy error cases and other medical malpractice cases in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area. Our attorneys have nearly two decades of experience representing victims and understand the complex issues that can arise in personal injury cases. To set up a free consultation, call 1-800-654-1949 or contact us online.