Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued an opinion in a personal injury case that discusses principles that often arise in Florida medical malpractice cases and other personal injury cases. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s evidence gave rise to a case of medical malpractice against the defendant pharmacist in the wake of a medication error. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s testimony failed to establish that the pharmacy violated any professional duty of care, and thus the medical malpractice claim was dismissed.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff suffered from serious medical issues requiring that he take certain medication. One day, the plaintiff’s wife went to pick up her husband’s prescription from the defendant pharmacy. The plaintiff’s wife was provided a single bag with two bottles inside. Neither bottle had the plaintiff’s name on it, and neither contained the proper medication.
The plaintiff’s wife, not noticing the error, gave the medication to her husband. Later that evening, she found the plaintiff on the floor near the front door to their home. The plaintiff’s wife did not notice anything that could have caused her husband to trip, and she concluded that he fell on his own. The pharmacy error was later discovered, and the couple subsequently filed a personal injury case.
In support of their claim, the couple presented the expert testimony of a pharmacist, who testified about the standard of care owed to patients by pharmacists. The expert stated that someone in the pharmacy – although not necessarily the pharmacist – was required to offer medication counseling to patients upon the pick-up of their prescription. This, the expert stated, was to decrease the chance of sending a patient home with the incorrect medication. The expert admitted, however, that there was no evidence that a pharmacy employee failed to offer counseling. Ultimately, the expert stated that, regardless of whether counseling was offered, the standard of care was violated because a pharmacist is responsible for every prescription that leaves the pharmacy.
The court found that the plaintiff’s evidence failed to meet the necessary elements of a medical malpractice claim and thus dismissed the plaintiff’s claim. The court explained that, even considering the expert’s testimony, there was no evidence that the pharmacy failed to offer counseling. The court held that the plaintiff cannot meet his burden to establish professional negligence with these facts because there was absolutely no evidence indicating whether the pharmacist offered counseling. The court explained that a lack of evidence showing that counseling was offered is not the same thing as affirmative evidence showing that it was not offered. At this stage, the court explained that the burden was on the plaintiff to provide evidence of negligence, and the plaintiff failed to do so.
It is important to note, however, that the plaintiff’s claim of traditional negligence was supported by adequate evidence and will be permitted to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.
Have You Been a Victim of a Florida Pharmacy Error?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a South Florida pharmacy error, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the specific facts, these claims may be brought either as traditional negligence claims or as medical malpractice claims, each with different procedures that must be followed. The dedicated South Florida personal injury attorneys at Friedman Rodman & Frank have extensive experience handling pharmacy error claims, and they know what it takes to be successful on behalf of their clients. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Reverses Jury’s Verdict Based on Lack of Evidence Showing the Defendant Knew about Hazard that Caused Plaintiff’s Fall, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 27, 2017.
Student’s Premises Liability Case Against School Dismissed Based on Lack of Causation, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 5, 2017.