As pharmacies have become busier and busier over the past few decades, many suburban pharmacies have begun to offer drive-up service. For many busy patients, drive-up windows are a convenient way to drop off or pick up prescriptions, voiding the need to park and get out of the car. However, conducting such important business through a drive-up window may increase the risks of a Maryland pharmacy error.
A recent case illustrates a common pharmacy error that occurred through a drive-up window. According to an industry news source that analyzed the court’s opinion, a woman intended on picking up two prescriptions for her husband through the defendant pharmacy’s drive-up window. The woman’s husband had Alzheimer’s Disease and high blood pressure. Rather than providing the woman with her husband’s prescribed medication, the pharmacist at the drive-up window gave her alprazolam and sertraline. Both drugs were intended for a patient with the same last name as the woman’s husband.
The woman took the medication home and administered it to her husband. Within a few hours, she woke up to her husband calling her name. She found him lying on the floor, and he could not get up. There were no tripping hazards nearby. It was later determined that he sustained a broken hip in the fall.
The coupled filed a personal injury case against the pharmacy, claiming professional negligence and simple negligence. The court dismissed the professional negligence claim at summary judgment based on the fact that the couple did not present any expert testimony to establish the appropriate professional standard of care. The couple appealed.
On appeal, the court affirmed the dismissal of the couple’s professional negligence claim against the pharmacy. The court agreed with the lower court, holding that a plaintiff in a pharmacy error lawsuit claiming professional negligence must present evidence to establish the appropriate duty of care in that specific situation. The court explained that most jurors are not medical professionals, and may not be able to comprehend what goes into a pharmacist’s decision-making process without the assistance of an expert witness. The court explained that the “cashier’s act of handing [the woman] the wrong medicine, whether or not she took any steps to confirm [the patient’s] identity as the proper recipient, raises an issue of simple negligence and not professional malpractice.” The court also rejected the couple’s claim for punitive damages, explaining that the pharmacy’s conduct that gave rise to the error did not indicate willful misconduct or malice.
Have You Been the Victim of a Maryland Pharmacy Error?
If you or someone close to you has recently been the victim of a Maryland pharmacy error, contact the dedicated injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have extensive experience representing injury victims and their family members in pharmacy error cases, and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. We have a large network of experts nationwide who assist us in preparing and proving our clients’ cases. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.