Who’s to blame when the wrong medication is prescribed and harm results to the patient?
Speed or delay can cause pharmaceutical negligence. The development of prescription drugs is sometimes rushed and adequate testing gives way to pressures to get the latest “wonder drug” into the marketplace. And sometimes a pharmaceutical company or the FDA may be slow in recalling a faulty drug and harm results.
The majority of pharmacy law Michigan cases of harm resulting from medication, however, occur because of pharmacy negligence.
A pharmacist owes a duty to customers to ensure that the proper medication is dispensed pursuant to the doctor’s prescription or order. The pharmacist must make sure he understands what has been written. If the pharmacist does not understand the written prescription, he must consult with the physician to verify what has been written.
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Large pharmacy companies have access to a complete record of what medications have been dispensed to a particular individual. That places the pharmacist in a position to recognize if a physician makes a mistake in prescribing a type of medication or dosage or in prescribing a medication that might contradict a prescription written by another doctor. The pharmacist, not the physician, is in the best position to know if a contradiction exists.
If a prescription is significantly different from what is shown on the pharmacy’s computerized records, then the pharmacist should contact the doctor and discuss the discrepancy. In fact, many of the larger pharmacies advertise on television about their advanced technological ability to track a customer’s prescription history. Anyone who advertises this way places upon themselves a higher burden to communicate with physicians and patients.
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One doctor has no way of knowing what another doctor has prescribed for any particular patient. Senior citizens may not remember all the medications they are taking or may mispronounce the name of a prescribed medication. And so physicians are not good sources to prevent contradiction of medication. The pharmacist remains the first defense and can be held accountable if serious harm results from contradiction – one medication reacting negatively to another.
In order for pharmacy negligence to occur there must be actual damage to an individual. A mistake by a pharmacist does not automatically create a cause for action. The patient must have suffered injury or real damage or there is not a basis for a lawsuit. Likewise, Michigan law provides that any drug approved by the FDA is assumed to be a safe drug. So if the FDA wrongfully allows a drug to be sold, and that drug injures someone, there is no cause for action in Michigan.
Individuals do have an obligation to be informed about the medication they take. If they come home with a prescription and discover the pill is a different color or shape, or that the dosage has changed, they should call their pharmacist to discuss the difference. Sometimes generic drugs are a different shape or color than a brand name so individuals should call their pharmacist when concerns arise.
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If you believe you have been a victim of pharmacy negligence, let the experts at Cochran, Kroll & Associates help you.
The Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is dedicated to representing individuals and families who have suffered catastrophic losses as a result of injuries, disabilities and death. The firm does not represent insurance companies or corporations but instead bases its practice upon representing individuals and families.