The commonality and danger of medication errors is grossly understated, and injuries resulting from these errors are on the rise. In some cases, the errors involve improper dosing or the dispensing of incorrect medications. Others are centered on the fulfillment of prescription medications that have been recalled or removed from the market by the FDA and these incidents indicate the need for greater scrutiny into the methods that pharmacies use to ensure that recalled products are taken off of their shelves in the interest of public safety. There should be no acceptable reason that any pharmacy fails to provide current information to employees concerning recent recalls or to have a process in place to remove these products from circulation.
The Rise of Pharmaceutical Recalls
Information from agencies such as the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the National Institute of Health reveals that pharmaceutical errors have been responsible for countless injuries and deaths. The data also indicates that the number of these errors is increasing and medication related errors are responsible now for more deaths in the United States than workplace accidents. The NCBI has declared that pharmaceutical errors are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the nation and that there is a valid need for concern.
Among the many errors made by pharmacists is the fulfillment of prescriptions for medications that should no longer be on the market. The massive number of medications making it to market in recent years has placed added stress on the FDA and resulted in numerous recalls of harmful medications that slipped through the cracks in the system. Once a medication has been recalled, it is the responsibility of doctors and pharmacies to ensure that nobody else is exposed to the medication and its potential dangers.
Outpatient Medication Deaths are Most Common
Most of the public attention related to medication errors has been centered on the role of medical workers who prescribe and administer medications in medical settings. Only about one in 854 inpatient deaths are due to medication errors, however— compared to one in 131 outpatient deaths. When pharmacies mistakenly fill prescriptions for recalled drugs, it is easier for medical workers to detect the error and correct the problem. When the drugs are taken at home, the additional layer of protection provided by nursing and caregiving staff is removed.
There is always a specific reason for the recall of medications, which is why pharmacies must take any additional actions necessary to ensure they don’t continue to fill prescriptions for unsafe drugs. Patients may be unaware of the recalls and suffer severe complications as a result. Pharmacies are liable when this occurs and must provide compensation to victims. Compensation can be provided for the following.
- The cost of any emergency care required to treat the patient. If the medication causes an adverse reaction that threatens the patient’s life, this cost of emergency care should be the responsibility of the negligent pharmacy.
- The cost of ongoing care due to permanent injuries or complications. If the recalled medication results in permanent injuries or conditions that impact the patient’s quality of living for his or her entire life, the liable pharmacy may be required to provide compensation for the cost of care and any loss of opportunity or lifestyle changes.
- The value of the victim’s pain and suffering. It can be difficult to place a value on pain and suffering, but compensation is often awarded for what a victim must endure so that others are deterred from committing the same negligent actions in the future that led to the victim’s injuries.
- Wrongful death claims. If the recalled medication is linked to a death, the victim’s family may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The factors that can contribute to the value of these claims include the financial contributions the deceased brought to the family and the loss of consortium suffered.
The Need for Greater Oversight
While human error is to be expected, pharmacies should take proactive approaches to ensure that patients are not provided medications that should no longer be on the market. The cost of providing compensation for injured or deceased patients and their families is much greater than the cost of putting more effective precautionary measures into place. More importantly, however, is the value of the lives saved by preventing these errors from occurring.
If you or a loved one has been injured or died after being prescribed a recalled medication, it is important to speak with an attorney concerning your rights and legal options. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC offers award winning legal services to many clients across the county. We would be happy to discuss your rights and answer any questions that you have about the law, your rights and what you may expect from a lawsuit. Contact us today for more information.