When Do You Need a Pharmacy Error Attorney?
Certain professions require a higher standard of care than other jobs, and pharmacy work is one of them. This is because too much, too little, or the wrong medication can cause severe injury or even death. There can be no room for error at the pharmacy counter.
The attorneys at Hodes Milman Ikuta have represented multiple injured persons in prescription and pharmacy error cases. We have compiled the following information to help explain what pharmacy error is, what kind of harm it causes, and why it’s so important to assert your legal rights if you’ve been injured by such negligence.
Speaking to an experienced pharmacy error lawyer today could help benefit you and your family, as well as anyone in your community who relies on the same pharmacy for their vital medications. Reach out to us by calling (949) 640-8222 for a free, confidential consultation at your earliest convenience.
What Is Pharmacy Error?
Pharmacy error is a subset of medication errors. Medication errors can be generally defined as any failure in the treatment process that causes, or has the potential to cause, harm to the patient via their medication. This includes errors in prescribing, transcribing, dispensing, and administering medications. Pharmacy errors largely take place in the dispensing stage, meaning they are usually not a form of medical malpractice, doctor error, or misdiagnosis. If there is overlap between a prescription error and a pharmacy error, your lawyer can help identify each unique form of negligence in court.
Under the law, a pharmacy error is a form of negligence, and the source of that error may be held liable for the injuries caused. A lawsuit could be brought against one or multiple entities, including the pharmacist, the manufacturer of the medication (in the form of a product liability suit), or the company that makes any dispensing machine or computer system that caused the error.
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Download a copy of the “What Are The Main Types of Pharmacy” infographic here.
What Are the Main Types of Pharmacy Error?
When it comes to medication errors and omissions, pharmacy examples include:
- Incorrect medication: The wrong medication can cause symptoms ranging from discomfort, to lasting damage or death. For example, if your doctor prescribed a mild medication knowing your body’s unique sensitivities, and instead your pharmacist issues a high-strength version of that medication, you could experience pain and further injury.
- Incorrect patient: Dispensing the medication to the wrong patient could cause severe harm. Not only does the original ailment go untreated, but the side effects of incorrect medications could cause profound damage. A man who needed heart medication and instead received birth control pills could be impacted with multiple problems all at once.
- Incorrect dosage: Incorrect dosages could cause significant damage in adults, and are especially dangerous for children. Medication measured out for the body weight of an adult could cause an overdose in a small child or infant. An overdose has the potential to overwhelm a child’s organ systems, and may lead to coma, brain injury (from lack of oxygen aka hypoxia), or death.
The above pharmacy errors are unexceptable breaches of professional standards for a pharmacy, but they are ultimately mistakes, meaning they are accidental errors. Another aspect of pharmacy error which overlaps with a different area of law is pharmaceutical fraud.
What Is Pharmaceutical Fraud?
There are instances where overmedicating isn’t a mistake or pharmacist error, but instead an intentional illegal act meant to make money in a corrupt doctor-and-pharmacist scheme. Doctors are not allowed to own pharmacies or take financial kickbacks for the medications they prescribe, a division enacted in law to preserve the fiduciary duty (financial responsibility) of both parties.
If that divide is breached, it is an illegal act that requires handling in a criminal court. However, should you or a loved one be injured by a criminal conspiracy to defraud and overmedicate, you can seek civil damages and restitution by filing a lawsuit.
Examples of pharmaceutical fraud could entail an under-the-counter arrangement, as in a case where a doctor rents space to a pharmacist to launder the ill-gotten money through high rent payments. Another example is a case Hodes Milman, LLP has handled involving opioid and narcotics abuse. The circumstances included a federal arrest of the doctor for money laundering and illegal narcotic dealing, because such unlawful behavior turns those who should be medical professionals into drug dealers.
What Types of Injuries Are Caused by Pharmacy Error?
The injuries that result from pharmaceutical error or fraud can be catastrophic. Some of the most severe injuries include:
- Single or multi-system failure: The failure of one or more body systems, like the renal system (kidneys), the cardiovascular system (heart), and the central nervous system (brain)
- Paralysis: A temporary or permanent inability to move
- Organ damage: Medications can permanently damage or shut down vital organs like the liver, lungs, kidneys, or heart
- Brain damage: Overdose or organ damage can shut down oxygen to the brain and create irreversible changes to speech, cognition, personality, or motor skills
- Death: The drastic damages that can be done due to incorrect medication or overdose could cause or contribute to an untimely death
The next section addresses how a pharmacy error lawsuit compensates for these injuries, including death.
An experienced pharmacy prescription error attorney from Hodes Milman Ikuta will first argue for a fair settlement. We will also be prepared to go to trial if necessary to secure you the best possible outcome.
What Damages Are Available in Pharmacy and Prescription Error Lawsuits?
“Damages” refers to the financial award you can receive when a lawsuit goes to trial. These funds may be awarded to cover:
- Medical costs to receive proper healthcare and follow-up treatment as needed, which are especially important for injuries which will require long-term or indefinite care
- Pain and suffering damages, including both physical pain and mental anguish
- Wrongful death expenses, which can entail funeral costs, estate fees, the loss of companionship, and the loss of earnings or other employment benefits—for those who have lost their family’s main breadwinner, these funds could account for wages, health insurance, and retirement benefits
Settlements for wrong prescription errors may cover these categories before going to trial. An experienced pharmacy and prescription error attorney will present their case to the negligent party first to demand a fair offer.
However, if a settlement cannot be reached, a successful verdict from a judge could involve another potential payout. This would come in the form of “punitive damages,” an amount charged to the other party as punishment for their behavior. These fees may be substantial if your attorney can prove to the judge that your pharmacist knowingly broke the law. These funds would likely be awarded to you on top of the above compensatory damages, so-called because they are meant to compensate or pay you back for your losses.
How Can You Contact an Experienced Pharmacy Error Attorney?
The high standards of care expected from doctors, nurses, and surgeons also extend to pharmacy workers. A pharmacist literally holds your life in their hands when they hand over a prescription bottle or syringe of medicine, and any mistakes made must be addressed appropriately in comparison to the damage they may cause.
A pharmacy or medication error lawsuit involves highly specific laws and regulations that intersect between medical standards, business practices, and consumer protections. An experienced attorney is needed to navigate these overlapping areas of law.
You can speak with a pharmacy error lawyer from Hodes Milman, LLP by calling (949) 640-8222, or by filling out our online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation. We are here to help improve your future, as well as the safety standards of your community pharmacy.
Pharmacy Errors FAQ
What should I do if I think the pharmacy gave me the wrong medication or the wrong dosage?
The first step is to call your doctor right away to confirm what your medication and dosage should be, or poison control/emergency services if you or your child have ingested the medication and are experiencing adverse reactions.
Call the pharmacy for information, but do not forfeit the medication or sign anything without first consulting with an attorney. Save the unused medication (or empty bottle), the bag it came in, and the receipt if possible—all of these items could help serve as legal proof.
How can I report a pharmacy error?
In the U.S., states have individual Boards of Pharmacy that you can submit a report to. You can also contact national organizations like the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices for more general information.
For information specific to your circumstances and state laws, contact a pharmacy error attorney for representation.
What do you have to prove in a pharmacy error case?
As with any case of personal injury negligence, your lawyer will need to meet four elements of proof:
- There was a duty of care owed by the pharmacist towards you
- That duty was breached when they handed over the wrong medication, dosage, or instructions
- That breach directly caused you or your loved one injury
- The injuries you suffered cost you in money, time, health, pain, and/or loss
An experienced pharmacy error attorney from Hodes Milman, LLP knows how to translate all that you’ve lost into financial figures the court can understand and reward.
How long do I have to decide about filing a pharmacy error lawsuit?
The statute of limitations (filing deadline) for pharmacy error cases will likely be considered professional malpractice (distinct from medical malpractice by a doctor, nurse, or surgeon). Hodes Milman, LLP is based in California, where the general limitation is three years after the injury occured. There may be potential exceptions in cases of pharmaceutical error where you did not realize a mistake was made for weeks, months, or even years after the error.
Pharmacy error cases have been dismissed on the basis of timeline limitations. It is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible so you don’t miss your window of opportunity to seek justice. Contact Hodes Milman Ikuta for legal representation by calling (949) 640-8222.
Clients We’ve Helped
The Law Office of Hodes Milman, LLP represented us for a somewhat complicated medical malpractice lawsuit. My husband and I are extremely fortunate and grateful to have had Mr. Daniel Hodes as our attorney. His expertise and professionalism throughout the process quickly brought us peace of mind, especially during such a stressful time. Mr. Hodes was diligent with every detail pertaining to our case and we had the utmost confidence in his guidance. I highly recommend Mr. Daniel Hodes to anyone seeking exceptional legal representation as we are extremely satisfied with the outcome of his service.
– Melissa R.
My husband received bad medical care and as a result almost died. I was fortunate enough to be referred to Jeff Milman. Jeff was so easy to talk to and worked so hard to get us a settlement. He kept us informed every step of the way. It was so great to have someone who believed in us after what we went through. We are forever grateful for the work he did on our behalf and would highly recommend him to anyone in our situation.
Ben Ikuta represented me in a case where the insurance companies put up a fight about it. Luckily, Ben navigated the waters like a seasoned veteran. He was both honest and direct with me, yet compassionate and empathetic to my situation. Ben kept me abreast of my case every step of the way, ensuring that I always had his support and answered all of my questions with candor and transparency. I’d confidently put any of my loved ones and friends in his company, trusting that they’d be in good hands. Thank you, Ben and the team!
Notable Verdicts and Settlements by Hodes Milman, LLP
Pharmacy and medication error cases results by Hodes Milman, LLP include:
For a woman placed into an irreversible coma by a discontinuation of antibiotic medication.
For a woman who developed a neurological disease due to improper medication.
For a 12-year-old child who suffered bowel obstruction caused by a medication error.
ABOUT HODES MILMAN, LLP
Hodes Milman, LLP has won $200 million and has over 30 years of experience securing justice for victims of negligence. We are proud to call our clients family and offer them the resourceful, committed and accessible legal advocacy they deserve.
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