Can a Pharmacist Be Held Liable for Medical Malpractice?

Medication errors are serious business. Anyone who has ever been prescribed the wrong medication or had a bad reaction to a medication they were prescribed knows that such mistakes have severe consequences. People who have received the wrong medication or had a bad reaction to a prescribed medication can suffer catastrophic injuries or even lose their life.

In such situations, it’s important to pinpoint who is responsible for a patient’s injury or death, because it can help prevent others from suffering the same fate and provide injury survivors and their families with the financial help they need for hospital bills, rehabilitation, job loss, funeral costs, loss of future income, and pain and suffering. Unfortunately, as many patients and their families find out, understanding the responsibilities of a pharmacist in relation to medical malpractice and proving a pharmacist is at fault for a patient’s injuries can be complicated.

Types of Pharmacist Negligence

Pharmacist negligence in many cases involves a medication error. A few common examples of pharmacist negligence include:

  • Wrong Medication – This involves a pharmacist giving a patient the wrong medication. For the pharmacist to be held responsible, it usually means the physician prescribed the correct medication, but the pharmacist provided the patient with wrong medication for some reason (grabbed the wrong medication by accident, misunderstood the prescription).
  • Allergic Reaction – If a patient has an allergy to a medication and a pharmacist gives them the medication anyway, in some cases, a pharmacist may be able to be held liable if the patient has an allergic reaction.
  • Wrong Dosage – In some situations, a patient can be given the correct medication, but the pharmacist can instruct them to take the wrong dosage of the medication. If a patient is injured or dies due to a pharmacist instructing them to take the wrong dosage of a medication, the pharmacist may be able to be held responsible for the patient’s injury or death.
  • Bad Reaction to Another Medication – When a patient is prescribed and administered a medication, other medications that the patient takes should be considered in case they shouldn’t be taken with their newly prescribed medication. If a pharmacist administers a medication to a patient and the patient is injured or dies because the new medication reacts poorly to another medication the patient was already taking, the pharmacist may be able to be held liable for the patient’s injuries or death.
  • Wrong Directions – This can occur if a pharmacist fails to provide a patient with the proper instructions for how to take a medication they’ve been prescribed. If that happens and the patient is injured or dies due to taking the medication incorrectly, the pharmacist may be able to be held responsible for the patient’s injury or death.

Proving Pharmacist Negligence

There are certain factors that medication error survivors and their families must prove to have a chance to hold a pharmacist liable for their injuries:

  • Breach of Duty of Care – There are certain guidelines that pharmacists are supposed to follow when caring for patients. If a pharmacist fails to follow any of those guidelines, it can be considered a breach of the duty of care they owe their patients.
  • Injury, Causation, and Damages – If a pharmacist’s breach of duty of care leads to a patient suffering an injury and damages, such as high medical expenses, loss of income, or death, the patient or their family may be able to hold the pharmacist accountable for the patient’s injury or death.

Are Pharmacists Liable in a Medical Malpractice Suit?

In some cases, pharmacists can be held responsible for medical malpractice if it can be proven their actions led to a patient suffering an injury or losing his or her life. However, it can be tricky in some instances, because while a pharmacist has duties that overlap with those in the medical profession, such as doctors and nurses, pharmacists do not have the exact same legal obligations as nurses and doctors.

For example, doctors have a responsibility called informed consent, which according to the American Medical Association (AMA), is a patient’s right to be told information and ask questions about a treatment a physician has recommended so that the patient can make a well-informed decision about their care. Pharmacists don’t have that exact responsibility. Instead, pharmacists have a responsibility called patient education or patient counseling, which involves providing a patient with important information about a medication they have been prescribed, such as if a medication should be taken with food or not, swallowed whole or chewed, taken in the morning or before bed, and taken with water, milk, or juice.

Since the lines between the responsibilities of pharmacists and other healthcare professionals can be unclear, the best way to understand if a pharmacist is liable for a patient’s injury or death is to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Questions About Pharmacist Liability and Medical Malpractice? Call Now!

David Kates has been helping medical malpractice survivors and their families fight for their rights for more than 20 years. He has handled complex litigation involving birth injuries, surgical errors, failure to diagnose, and medication errors. As his client reviews show, Attorney Kates has a history of providing his clients with compassionate service and successfully guiding them through the process of holding those responsible for their injuries and illnesses accountable.

For more information about medication errors and pharmacist negligence or to set up a free consultation, give us a call at (718) 866-3664 or fill out our online contact form today.