Pharmacists Medical Negligence Claim

Could the wrong advice from a pharmacist lead to medical negligence claims?

Cases of medical negligence are not just confined to hospitals, doctors' surgeries or dentists' chairs. There are other medical professionals that most of us encounter on a regular basis and this can include pharmacists.

There are literally thousands of prescription drugs and the dosages in which they are given can be vitally important in either healing or harming the recipient. Because the wrong dosage or the wrong drug can have potentially devastating consequences, pharmacists have a legal and moral responsibility to provide their customers with the right drugs and offer them the right advice on how to use them. However, the role of the pharmacist is changing. Once they were there simply to dispense medicines. Now for many they are the first port of call in the event of an illness or injury. In effect, pharmacists have become frontline medical staff.

While pharmacists may feel ready to embrace the challenges of on-the-spot diagnosis, the dangers lie when they are asked to prescribe medicines. Should an incorrect medicine harm or even kill a patient, they could well find themselves looking at a medical negligence claim. It is the responsibility of the pharmacy and, ultimately, the pharmacist to provide its customers with the correct prescription.

In effect, the mis-prescription of drugs or bad advice can both be treated as medical negligence. Pharmacists are medical professionals and, as such, have a legal duty of care to their patients. While we are all human and accidents happen, accidents involving medicines can have dire consequences. Anyone who has suffered at the hands of poor advice from a pharmacist or as the result of being given the wrong drugs has a legal right to seek restitution.

Most cases of pharmaceutical negligence occur without a doctor's prescription. In a recent case, a woman from Chester sought advice from her pharmacist regarding her dry and itchy eyes. The pharmacist correctly prescribed eye-drops. However, the packaging of the eye-drops was very close to the packaging of some ear drops which, against the manufacturer's recommendations, had been kept next to the eye drops. The result was that the woman was given ear-drops and proceeded to treat herself with them at home, exacerbating her existing condition and causing her eyes to swell and become even more painful. While this example is not a serious one, it helps to show how a simple mistake could have serious consequences.

The first thing for anyone who believes they may have been the victim of pharmaceutical malpractice to do is to contact a lawyer. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will be able to assess the situation and determine whether the claimant has a case worth pursuing or not. The claimant may then be asked to provide information to support their case such as the prescription itself, a statement from their doctor or a statement from other witnesses. All these factors can help and may be examined by a medical professional to determine just who is at fault. It may be that the handwriting of the doctor who made the prescription was illegible, or it may be that the pharmacist became confused. Either way, pharmacists need to be aware that their new role as frontline medical personnel leaves them open to the same possibilities of medical negligence claims as other care staff.

If you would like 1stClaims' expert Medical Negligence Solicitors on your side please call us free on 0800 2888 693 (from a mobile click to call: 01348 630 720) or complete our Free Claim Enquiry form now and we will be in touch with you very soon.

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