The Effectiveness of a New Law Absolving Negligent Pharmacists of Criminal Liability Is Questionable

Medical errors, including Maryland pharmacy errors, are commonly believed to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States. However, the actual number of pharmacy errors is up for debate because, as is the case in Maryland, most states do not require pharmacists to report the vast majority of the errors that occur.

Under the laws of most states, pharmacists need only report errors that end up causing an “adverse medical event.” Essentially, this means that an error does not need to be reported unless the patient suffers some kind of harm as a result of the error. Thus, errors that are caught before the medication is delivered to the patient do not need to be reported.

It is widely believed, however, that the best way to reduce errors is to learn from common mistakes. In most professions, the industry can learn from many common errors as a whole, meaning that pharmacists in Maryland may develop a better way to prevent an error and can share that new method with other pharmacists nationwide. However, in order for that learning process to work, pharmacists must be open about the number and types of errors.

Recently, the United Kingdom passed a law hoping to increase the percentage of reported errors by attempting to eliminate the threat of criminal liability for negligent errors. According to a recent news report, the new law covers most but not all pharmacy errors. And the fact that not all errors are covered has some in the industry doubting the effectiveness of the law. In fact, according to the report, roughly half of all pharmacists surveyed said that the new law would not make them more likely to report an error.

One pharmacist explained that even under the new law, a pharmacy error that results in patient injury will still be a criminal offense, with the new law acting only as a defense to the charges. Thus, a pharmacist may still be charged, and if they are, they will need to prove that the defense applies to their situation. Similarly, the defense will not apply to the sale of over-the-counter medication, or to errors showing a “deliberate disregard for patient safety.”

On the other side, regulators argue that providing blanket immunity would too easily result in law enforcement being unable to prosecute those who intend to cause harm, or are grossly negligent when carrying out their duties. In any event, the new law does not do anything to protect pharmacists against civil liability or claims that they are not fit to practice as a pharmacist.

Have You Been a Victim of a Maryland Pharmacy Error?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a pharmacy error, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. With the vast number of errors going unreported, pharmacy errors are a common occurrence in the United States. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, we represent those who have been harmed due to a pharmacist’s negligence. We have decades of experience handling all types of pharmacy error claims, and we have a broad network of expert witnesses to assist us in proving our clients’ cases. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

How a Physician May Be Responsible for a Maryland Pharmacy Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, April 16, 2018.

A Look at Hospital Pharmacy Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, April 2, 2018.

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