What is the basis for a pharmacy malpractice lawsuit? A pharmacist must be trained as to the proper dosage of drugs, and has available to him or her the same texts and references as those utilized by doctors. These references clearly cover potential drug interactions, side effects and warnings for each drug.
What is the pharmacist’s duty? A pharmacist is responsible for inspecting and interpreting prescriptions and to consult with the prescriber (the doctor) if there is any doubt as to the prescription. Potential doubt includes not being certain about which medication is being prescribed, what the proper dose is, how often the drug should be taken or applied, and whether this particular patient should not be prescribed the medication due to an allergy or contraindication with another drug that the patient is currently taking.
The pharmacist’s failure to comply with this duty to interpret the prescription leads to most prescription errors and related malpractice claims against pharmacists and the drug stores for whom they work. Most medicine prescriptions are filled by Walgreens, CVS, Target, RiteAid, Kroger, Costco & Walmart/Sam’s Club. Although quite a few more are filled at pharmacies located inside hospitals, labs and clinics, the majority of prescriptions these days are filled by these big box stores.
When a prescription is filled incorrectly due to misinterpretation of the prescription, the pharmacist generally is at fault because the pharmacist is the last link in the drug distribution channel. In other words, the pharmacist has the last chance to catch any error and the standard of care for pharmacists requires that any doubt regarding whether the correct drug has been prescribed or the correct amount to be prescribed is on the script must be cleared up by the pharmacist prior to dispensing the prescription. Almost every pharmacy malpractice case could have been prevented if the pharmacist had simply taken the time to verify the prescription with the patient or double checking to make sure the drug being dispensed is appropriate to treat the patient’s condition or heeded the pharmacies warning system which alerts the pharmacist and pharmacy technicians of potential interactions and problems with a prescription before it is filled and dispensed. The failure to do this is the foundation of almost all malpractice suits against pharmacies.