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Repeat Mistakes Pharmacist in Phladelphia: Know Your Rights

July 3rd, 2014

A recent survey indicated that medical mistakes are responsible for more deaths in the United States than automobile accidents, and that approximately 21 percent of those mistakes are made in the dispensing of medication. In some cases this is happening in hospitals and other inpatient settings, and in many cases they are happening in our local chain pharmacies. These mistakes may be minor but they carry significant risk of having traumatic and tragic results. Even in situations where a patient who receives the incorrect medication recovers, the cost of treatment and productivity can be expensive.

Pharmacists who have filed whistleblower lawsuits against their big chain employers have accused them of creating work environments that lead to these costly mistakes. They point to unrealistic productivity goals as well as the increased use of large numbers of unskilled assistants being supervised by overworked pharmacists as a reason that there are so many repeated mistakes by pharmacists.

There are two different types of mistakes being made in pharmacies. Some are considered mistakes in judgment, in which counseling or screening should have been provided or the pharmacist should have been providing a higher level of monitoring of allergies, drug interactions, abuses, or some other mistake. Far more frequently the pharmacy’s errors are mechanical mistakes. These account for roughly 86% of all mistakes that result in pharmacy lawsuits, and include errors that are made in the course of preparing and processing a medication to be dispensed to the patient. A wrong medicine may be put into a bottle, a wrong strength or dosage, incorrect instructions may be provided to the patient, or a medication meant for one patient may be mistakenly provided to another. These types of mistakes are eminently preventable. Effective strategies exist to prevent repeated mistakes by pharmacists, but they are often not exercised because they take too much time and reduce the number of prescriptions that a chain pharmacy fills.  Some examples of these preventive practices include:

  • Double-checking to make sure that prescriptions are carefully transcribed from the physicians’ prescription. There are many drugs that have similar names and look similar. Ensuring that the patient’s identifying information is carefully checked will also help, and can prevent harmful drug interactions and allergic reactions.
  • Calling the prescribing physician when in doubt about handwriting or strengths. Prescriptions that are called in should be written down immediately.
  • Exercising extreme caution regarding dosages and abbreviations.
  • Making sure that the pharmacy environment is well organized and all bottles are well marked.
  • Keeping distraction to a minimum.
  • Double-checking all prescriptions before they leave the pharmacists’ supervision and then again before providing to the customer.

None of these precautions are considered unreasonable; in fact they are exactly what a well-trained, responsible pharmacist should always provide. Failure to do so may represent negligence or carelessness on the fault of the pharmacy, and may result in repeat mistakes by pharmacists that can have tragic results.

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Gavin P. Lentz, Esq.
Bochetto & Lentz

Gavin Lentz (right) was selected as a "Super Lawyer" for 2006-2009 and 2010-2015 in New Jersey by Philadelphia Magazine. He has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine and the Legal Intelligencer in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 - 2015.

On September 16, 2002 Mr. Lentz was selected as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Intelligencer.

He has made many television appearances, including on Fox News, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Phil Donahue Show.

Mr. Lentz is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

As a former prosecutor, he knows how to aggressively go after large pharmacy chains to prove the facts necessary to protect your loved one's rights.

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