Pharmacists are professionals who are responsible for the prescriptions they fill for doctors. They carry liability insurance to protect them from malpractice suits in case of error or other incidents. There are times when a person has an adverse reaction to a medication prescribed to them. The issue can be serious, even fatal. While the prescribing doctor may be held liable, the pharmacist may also bear responsibility.
Responsibilities of the Pharmacist
The role of the pharmacist has changed over the years. In the past, they simply filled the prescription as directed from the doctor’s orders. Today, they have the task of making sure the patient understands the instructions of the medication and any potential side effects that may occur from taking it.
The pharmacist must also make sure that the medication is suitable for the patient even if the doctor prescribed it. They are the last defense against doctor errors, and they must live in that role responsibly. They may be held liable if they dispense a medication that is not suitable for a particular age group or if it has an adverse reaction with other medications the patient may be taking.
Change in the law have recognized that the pharmacist is a professional who bears a distinct responsibility to the patient rather than simply following doctor’s orders. The pharmacist must offer to discuss information about the prescription medication with the patient. This conversation should include the following:
- Name of the medication
- Duration of use
- Route or method of use
- Special precautions or directions
- Side effects, including interactions with other medications
- Proper storage
- Refill information
- Proper actions to be taken if the medication is overdosed or missed
If there is a problem with reading or understanding the prescription, it is the pharmacist’s duty to call the doctor to confirm the instructions. It’s also assumed that the pharmacist should have working knowledge of medications to recognize if a mistake was made by the doctor.
Another duty of the pharmacist is to recognize when it’s unsafe to fill a prescription. For example, they may know that an addictive painkiller is being prescribed by multiple doctors to the same patient. The pharmacist has a duty to protect the patient by refusing to fill the medication.
If a prescription medication is given that causes an adverse reaction in the patient, the pharmacist may be held liable along with or instead of the prescribing doctor. Negligence must be determined on the part of the pharmacist.
Medications are a valuable resource to help people get well from their illnesses, but they are also dangerous when given in the wrong circumstances. A pharmacist is responsible for providing the best care for patients. Mistakes with prescribed drugs can be dangerous and even deadly.
If you or a family member have had medical issues from a prescription medication due to the negligence of the pharmacist, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. An experienced attorney can review your case and determine if negligence was a factor and who the negligent party was.