A Louisiana mother has filed suit against Walgreen’s after two different stores allegedly incorrectly filled her daughter’s medication. According to the claim, the plaintiff and her minor child were at the Walgreens at 4600 Westbank Expressway in Marrero Louisiana, on Sept. 26, 2016, when the first incident took place. The suit states that the plaintiff was picking up medication prescribed for her daughter’s seizures but she was given the wrong medication. The child began to show symptoms and was admitted to a hospital, where she was treated for an overdose of the incorrect medication. On May 30, the plaintiff went to a Walgreens at 2001 Carol Sue Ave. in Gretna and after returning home saw that there were two types of pills in the bottle. Her claim accuses Walgreen’s of negligence by failing to take the proper care, failing to warn of danger, and overall negligence of the employees who filled the prescription incorrectly.
How Common is this Problem?
This case raises an interesting question—how often do pharmacists incorrectly fill prescriptions, and what can you do about it if they do? While estimates vary, it’s believed that one percent to five percent of prescriptions filled in U.S. pharmacies involve some kind of error. According to Gerald Gianutsos, an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, a prescription label with incorrect directions is the most frequent type of prescription error, but, occasionally, a patient will also receive either the wrong dosage of the correct medication or the wrong medication altogether. Many drugs have names that sound similar and that use similar spellings, and when they’re arranged alphabetically on the pharmacy shelf, “it’s very easy to grab the wrong one by mistake and look at it real quick … and think that you’re dispensing the right drug,” Gianutsos says.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration keeps a list of drugs associated with medication errors. Mix-ups have occurred, for instance, between methylphenidate (the generic name for Ritalin, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in kids) and methadone (a narcotic used to treat heroin addicts). Another type of pharmacy error is missing a drug interaction that could result from a new prescription. For instance, taking an antihistamine for allergy symptoms while you’re also taking sedatives, tranquilizers, or a prescription drug for high blood pressure or depression could strongly affect your concentration and make it dangerous to drive, according to the FDA.
What to Do if You’ve Discovered a Prescription Error
As an informed consumer, there are several ways that you can protect yourself against prescription error, including:
- Check the prescription before you leave the pharmacy: The moment you pick up your prescription, open the bag at the counter and verify that you have been given the correct medication. Even though your name may appear on the outside of the bag, somebody else’s name could be on the containers inside.
- Say yes to counseling: Besides giving you critical information about your medications, pharmacist-patient counseling sessions can sometimes uncover prescription errors. This is the time to ask what the drug is for, how you should take it and for how long, and if it will interfere with drugs you’re already taking. Also, ask when and whether you should expect to experience any side effects.
- Keep incorrectly prescribed medication: If you discover that you’ve been given the wrong medication, keep it rather than giving it back to the pharmacy, as you might need to provide it as evidence in future litigation.
- Report the error: There are several avenues for reporting prescription errors, including the National Medication Error Reporting Program and your state’s medical board
- Contact an attorney: If you suffered serious injuries as a result of the prescription error, you likely can pursue a medical malpractice claim against the pharmacy.
Contact an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or someone you love has suffered injury as a result of a prescription error, you may be able to recover through a medical malpractice action. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Cobb County, Fulton County, and Gwinnett County.