66% of all adults in the United States take at least one prescription medication. We get our prescriptions from pharmacists. We all rely on pharmacists to fill our prescriptions accurately.
When a mistake occurs, the consequences can be serious, even deadly. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a misfilled or wrong prescription, you may wonder if you can sue. The answer may be yes. Our experienced Columbia medical malpractice attorneys can help you.
Can You File a Lawsuit for a Misfilled or Wrong Prescription?
You can sue for a misfilled or wrong prescription if the error occurred because of medical malpractice or negligence. If the pharmacy failed to use reasonable care, resulting in an error and harm to a patient, the victim may claim monetary compensation.
A lawsuit for a misfilled or wrong prescription falls under civil tort law. The basis of the case is that the pharmacy or pharmacist is legally responsible for the harm that occurred.
A lawsuit for a misfilled or wrong prescription may occur because of any of these errors:
- The wrong drug
- The wrong dose
- Administration in the wrong form
- The wrong patient
- Failing to attach instructions
A victim must suffer injury, either by consuming the drug or failing to receive the medication they truly need.
Type of Legal Claim for Misfilled or Wrong Prescription
There are several different legal theories that may be appropriate to raise in a claim based on misfilled or wrong prescription.
Does pharmacy error fall under medical malpractice laws in South Carolina?
Yes, pharmacy error may fall under medical malpractice laws in South Carolina.
Pharmacy error and medical malpractice
A pharmacy error may be medical malpractice in South Carolina law. S.C. Code § 15-79-110(6) defines medical malpractice as doing what a reasonably prudent healthcare provider (emphasis added) wouldn’t do, or not doing what they would do.
The law defines a health care provider to include a pharmacist along with physicians, surgeons and other providers. Pharmacists in South Carolina can commit medical negligence based on prevailing standards of professional practice.
Pharmacy error and negligence
A claim may be based on ordinary negligence, gross negligence, or improper hiring, training, retention and supervision by the pharmacy. A pharmacist, pharmacy or both parties may be named in a claim. Punitive damages may be sought where the harm is the result of willful, wanton and reckless disregard of the patient’s rights.
South Carolina Pharmacy Practice Act
S.C. Code § 40-43-10 et. seq. is the South Carolina Pharmacy Practice Act. The purpose of the law is to promote and protect public health, safety and welfare. S.C. Code § 40-43-30(69) defines a pharmacy as a location in which prescription drugs and devices are maintained, compounded and dispensed for patients by a pharmacist. A pharmacy must have an operating permit.
Pharmacists must meet minimum qualifications outlined in S.C. Code § 40-43-80 including a bachelors or doctorate degree, an internship and licensing examinations. Pharmacy technicians may work under the supervision of a pharmacist. (S.C. Code § 40-43-82).
Can a pharmacy be sued for defective product liability because of a dangerous drug?
Probably not. In Madison v. American Home Products, 358 S.C. 449 (2004), the court ruled that a pharmacy cannot be held strictly liable for filling a prescription in accordance with a doctor’s orders.
In the Madison case, a person took a drug for depression for four days, before assaulting someone and acting violently. The court ruled that pharmacists provide a service. They are not in the business of selling a product such that S.C. Code § 15-73-10 would apply.
Examples of South Carolina Lawsuits for Misfilled or Wrong Prescription Drug
An example of a South Carolina lawsuit based on a misfilled prescription drug is Hundley v. Rite Aid of South Carolina, Inc., 339 S.C. 285 (2000). A seven-year-old child was diagnosed with ADHD. The doctor prescribed Ritalin. The pharmacy filled the prescription with Glynase, a drug to lower blood sugar in adult diabetes patients.
The child took the incorrect drug and had a seizure. She suffered brain damage, learning deficits and an inability to self-care. Her parents brought a suit against the pharmacist and pharmacy.
An investigation revealed that the pharmacist filled the prescription near the end of a 12-hour shift. He had a history of misfilling prescriptions, paperwork errors and having pill bottles on counters without caps. In the claim, the plaintiff argued gross negligence, negligent retention and negligent supervision of employees.
The jury awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.
The defense challenged numerous issues on appeal, including use of an economic expert to speak to the child’s future care needs. The court affirmed the ruling, stating that evidence rules allow an expert to base an opinion on facts and data that are not admissible in evidence.
Compare Scott v. Greenville Pharmacy, Inc., 212 S.C. 485 (1948), where the victim had the flu and purchased drugs from a pharmacy to help him sleep. He became addicted to the drugs, taking them for a year. Eventually, he committed suicide. The court said that the plaintiff could have avoided the harm by discontinuing use of the drug, and that his act of committing suicide was an intervening event. The pharmacy was not liable.
Results for Our Clients
As lawyers for misfilled or wrong prescription lawsuits, The Louthian Law Firm has a track record of success. For example, we helped a client secure a compensation award of $490,000 after an initial $100,000 offer. While past results don’t guarantee future results, we promise to use every opportunity to pursue your rights.
Consultation With a Lawyer for Prescription Errors
The Louthian Law Firm works each day on behalf of our clients to make things right. If you have been harmed by a pharmacy error, we invite you to have a consultation with a lawyer for misfilled or wrong prescriptions.
We represent adults and children. We handle claims involving store pickup and shipped orders.
Contact us today to talk about your situation and begin.