Can Pharmacists Be Held Liable for Malpractice?

When we think of medical malpractice, many of us think of claims against doctors, but, the reality is, anyone involved in the delivery of your healthcare may be guilty of medical malpractice: a hospital, doctor, nurse, or even a pharmacist.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a broad term for when a patient is hurt by health professionals who fail to competently perform their duties. Generally speaking, you and your Kansas City medical malpractice attorney must prove three things for a medical malpractice case:

  • That a relationship existed. It’s generally easy to prove a relationship between a patient and his or her pharmacist exists since it will be in your records and on prescriptions.
  • That he or she committed negligence. In terms of medical malpractice, the law defines negligence as when someone fails to act in a way another competent medical professional would’ve in similar circumstances.
  • His or her negligence (sometimes referred to as a violation of the duty of care) led to your injuries.

Medical Malpractice and Pharmacists

Pharmacists are highly specialized, professionally degreed individuals. Their job is much more complicated than doling out pills. They have a professional and legal responsibility to perform several important tasks:

  • Review a prescription and a patient’s medical history.
  • Inform a patient of the potential risks of a medication.
  • Ensure the patient’s prescriptions don’t interact.
  • Contact the prescribing physician in case of risk or suspected mistakes.
  • Discuss the patient’s medications with them.

Types of Pharmacy Malpractice

Unfortunately, not every pharmacist follows the letter of the law. Here are some of the most common grounds for pharmacy malpractice:

  • Medication errors. Dispensing the wrong medication is , unfortunately, ne of the most common grounds for medical malpractice. Sometimes, it’s a mistake in dosing, while other times it may be the result of giving out the wrong medication entirely. When a pharmacist deviates from physician instruction, he or she is likely negligent.
  • Failing to consider a patient’s medical history. It’s a pharmacist’s job to review a patient’s significant medical history and determine potential reactions to drugs. If, for example, a pharmacist dispenses a drug that causes a known allergic reaction, he or she may be negligent.
  • Failing to foresee drug interactions. It’s also important for a pharmacist to review a patient’s medical history to see what other medications this person takes. Patients often have multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors; it’s a pharmacist’s job to make sure such medications don’t interact and cause issues. Failure to properly screen medications is a form of negligence.

Determining Fault

If you’ve been injured as the result of a prescription error, one of the most difficult parts of pursuing a claim is determining who is at fault for your injuries. For example, we naturally assume a physician is at fault for medication errors, and, in some cases, this is true. On the other hand, it’s a pharmacist’s job to act as a check on a physician order. In other words, even if the physician committed a prescribing error, a pharmacist should have caught it and called the prescribing physician for a new script.

In some cases, your medical malpractice case may not be against the pharmacist, but the facility who employs him or her. An example would be a hospital pharmacy who mixes up the medications going to patient’s rooms.

Product Liability Considerations

In other cases, your injuries may not be the result of pharmacist error but an issue with the medication itself. For example, a pharmaceutical company may fail to see a possible serious side effect to a medication, making it a matter of product defect. In this case, you may have a case against the pharmaceutical company.

The crux of pursuing a medical malpractice claim lies in filing it against the right person. A Kansas City personal injury lawyer can help you determine the parties responsible and demand recourse for your (or a loved one’s) injuries.