Pharmaceutical negligence (or malpractice) is one of the fastest growing types of personal injury lawsuits occurring today. There are an estimated one million people who are potential victims of pharmaceutical malpractice annually in this country.

Pharmacists are licensed health care providers, and in the vast amount of cases they are extremely professional in their duties, but even they make mistakes. Make sure you are given the right prescription drugs each time you go to the pharmacy to pick up your medication, because even the simplest errors can cause serious consequences to your health. This article will focus on this particular form of medical negligence by a pharmacist or pharmacy. (Different legal theories and laws apply to actions against drug manufacturers for defective drugs that have dangerous side effects or consequences.)

Many medications come in bottles or boxes that look very much the same as other medications by the same drug manufacturer. The pharmacist may simply pull the wrong bottle off the shelf, affix the pharmacy’s prescription label to it, and deliver it to the patient. The patient takes the wrong medication without realizing the error. If the packaging looks different than your regular medication, ask questions about it. If the pharmacy label conflicts with the manufacturer’s label, bring it to the attention of the pharmacy. If the pills given to you are in a different shape or size or color, ask your pharmacist to explain the difference. You do not want to accidentally take anti-seizure medication for a week, thinking it is your prescribed laxative. Taking the wrong medication may be toxic to you, conflict with your other medications, or result in serious health problems.

In addition, there have been incidents where a patient has been given someone else’s medications by mistake, because the patients have similarly names. This problem is more common than you might suspect. Before you leave the pharmacy, check the pharmacist’s label to be sure your name is on the bottle or package, and that you haven’t been given your neighbor’s prescribed drugs by mistake. Transcriptions errors can also occur, when the drugs themselves have similar names. Again, if the medicine looks different to you or your caregiver, ask your pharmacist.

At the Law Offices of Philip Cohen, we are experienced in handling claims for pharmacy negligence, which falls under the umbrella of medical malpractice or medical negligence. You must be mindful of the one-year statute of limitations that apply to all claims of medical negligence, including pharmacy negligence. Patients have suffered mild to serious side effects from taking the wrong medicine, as well as the anxiety, fear and stress once they realize a mistake has been made. If this happens to you, stop taking the medication and contact your doctor immediately. Go to the nearest emergency room if necessary, and bring the mistaken drugs with you. If possible, take a photograph of the bottle or packaging that is incorrect, before handing over the product, to preserve the evidence in the event that you need to make a claim for pharmacy negligence. Follow your doctor’s orders first, and then contact the Law Offices of Philip Cohen, where our competent and caring attorneys and staff can investigate and pursue a claim for damages if necessary.