Hospital pharmacists are not immune to medical malpractice claims. Such claims may involve the wrong medication being dispensed (especially if the drugs have similar sounding names), the wrong dosage of the drug (such as filling a prescription for 10 ml of a drug when the prescribed dosage was 0.1 ml), or the failure to check to see if a newly prescribed drug should not be taken with a patient’s current medications. If the fault is wholly or partially with the dispensing pharmacist, the pharmacist can expect to be named in a medical malpractice lawsuit if the pharmacist’s negligence led to serious or fatal consequences.
An Example Of Hospital Pharmacist Malpractice
In a particularly sad and serious case of hospital pharmacist negligence, a 23-year-old woman who was 23 weeks pregnant went into active premature labor as a result of being given the wrong medication, resulting in the baby requiring intubation and ventilator support at birth. The child is severely impaired as a result and needs constant care at a specialized hospital where he is a patient.
The woman had gone to the hospital when she began experiencing slight vaginal bleeding. She was admitted to the obstetrical unit for observation and rest. Her physician ordered a progesterone suppository to stop her bleeding. The physician’s drug order went to the hospital’s pharmacy, where the pharmacist on duty was unfamiliar with progesterone suppository and was unaware that the hospital pharmacy had not stocked it for many years. The pharmacist entered a special code into the hospital pharmacy’s computer that was supposed to speed the proper dispensing of the prescribed drug at the proper dosage.
However, the computer determined the drug being requested was a Prostin suppository, a cervical ripening agent that is sometimes used in abortion procedures and has the opposite effect of a progesterone suppository. The pharmacist either did not notice the different drug name or did not appreciate that the drug dispensed was not the drug prescribed. Adding to the chain of errors was the labor and delivery nurse who was responsible for the woman’s care and who administered the wrong drug to the woman, resulting in the premature delivery.
The pharmacist’s error was discovered the following day. The hospital pharmacist acknowledged that she was unfamiliar with the drug prescribed and failed to determine if the two drugs (progesterone and Prostin) were the same. She further admitted that she failed to research the names of the drugs and failed to contact the prescribing physician for clarification about the prescription.
The hospital pharmacist was subsequently named in a medical malpractice lawsuit that also named the hospital and the labor and delivery nurse as defendants. The malpractice claim was settled for the policy limit of the medical malpractice insurance coverage.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of a drug error caused by a hospital pharmacist or a retail pharmacist, you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your pharmacist malpractice claim for you and represent you in a pharmacy malpractice claim, if appropriate.
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