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Are Misfilled Medications a Problem?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 82% of Americans take at least one prescription drug, and another 29% take 5 or more. These drugs are a critical part of treatment plans and help individuals manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and depression or anxiety.

Unfortunately, prescription drugs can end up causing more harm than good when a pharmacist misfills the prescription. In fact, many patients will end up in the emergency room when their prescription triggers an allergic reaction or simply fails to manage their chronic conditions. They end up needing expensive medical care to try and get well.

Please call Powers & Santola, LLP today if you are taking prescription medication but feel your condition is deteriorating. It is a real possibility that the pharmacy has misfilled your prescription due to negligence. Our Syracuse medical malpractice attorney can investigate and offer legal advice about what steps you should take next.

What is a Misfill?

This is a particular type of medication error caused by pharmacies. Sometimes, patients are prescribed the wrong medication by a doctor, in which case the doctor is to blame. In other situations, patients receive the wrong medicine or the wrong amount from a nurse who dispenses it in a hospital or nursing home. That mistake is the nurse’s fault.

A misfill occurs when a pharmacy receives a script but then doesn’t fill it properly. They make some error—and they are accountable, not a doctor or nurse. A misfill is a type of pharmacy medical malpractice, and it causes serious problems for patients who trust that they are receiving the correct medication.

Misfilled Medication Statistics

How serious are medication errors? The truth is in the numbers:

  • Some sources estimate that over a million people suffer an adverse drug event in the United States.
  • The Food and Drug Administration reports at least a hundred thousand reports of medication errors.
  • Adverse drug events end up costing an additional $3.5 billion in medical care to treat patients.
  • About 40% of the out-of-hospital costs of adverse drug events are preventable.

These errors consume critical health resources, while at the same time costing families needed income.

How Do Pharmacies Misfill Prescriptions?

Pharmacists face increasing pressures. In fact, a New York Time story on the struggles of chain pharmacies showed that these businesses are often understaffed. Some technicians do not receive adequate supervision, and few procedures are in place to minimize the most common errors. According to some pharmacists, the result is “chaos.”

Patients are harmed by the following mistakes:

  • The pharmacy provides the wrong medication
  • The pharmacy labels the medication improperly
  • The pharmacy fails to provide necessary instructions or warnings
  • The pharmacy provides the wrong dosage

What is behind these errors? Labor shortages play a part. Fewer technicians are handling more prescriptions, and errors increase when people are overworked.

But there are other reasons. Some drug names are very similar, so a careless pharmacist might end up filling the prescription with the wrong drug. In other cases, a doctor’s prescription could be illegible, but the tech guesses at what is being prescribed instead of calling the doctor to clear up any confusion.

Misfilled Prescriptions Cause Serious Injuries

Taking the wrong medication can lead to sickness, injury, and possibly death. There are several reasons why.

First, the wrong medication might end up causing an allergic reaction, or it might be contraindicated based on other prescriptions that you take. Put in plain English: the medication could cause a serious problem when combined with another drug which is harmless when taken in isolation.

Your doctor and a pharmacist should pay attention to your medical history, including your medication history. When they misfill a prescription, you might end up with a dramatic health crisis that sends you to the emergency room in an ambulance.

Second, by taking the wrong medication, you aren’t receiving necessary treatment. As an example: if you are diabetic, then insulin is critical to maintaining your health. But if you get the wrong dosage of insulin, you could suffer from hypoglycemia.

Similarly, you might need an antibiotic to control an infection. If you receive the wrong drug, then your infection can rage out of control, and you could end up with sepsis or require an amputation to deal with the consequences.

Your Legal Rights Following a Misfilled Prescription

Medical malpractice law in New York requires that health professionals provide an acceptable level of care to patients. These laws extend to pharmacies, just as they would doctors. When a doctor provides the wrong medication, you can sue the doctor for malpractice. But when a pharmacy misfills a prescription, you can typically sue them.

This lawsuit can hold pharmacists accountable and helpfully force change at the company. You can also receive important compensation to defray the cost of getting sicker. You probably need additional medical care, which costs money you may not have. You should not have to cover those bills when someone else is to blame.

Sick individuals usually lose out on income as they try to recover from the medication error in the hospital. Someone who misses several weeks of work could end up losing their home to default or see their credit shredded.

There is also pain, suffering, and emotional distress tied to prescription errors. You deserve compensation for this intense suffering, which was completely avoidable.

The good news is that pharmacies should have liability insurance that can pay a settlement. What you need is a seasoned malpractice lawyer to pull a case together and argue on your behalf.

Contact a Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Many patients are surprised to end up at the hospital soon after leaving, and they don’t know why. The pharmacy might claim they filled the prescription as written and point the finger at your doctor. Meanwhile, your doctor claims to have prescribed the correct drug. What should you do?

Please call Powers & Santola, LLP to schedule a consultation. We are an experienced team of medical malpractice lawyers serving the Syracuse community. Call us today or reach out online.

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