Articles Posted in Medication Error

Medical malpractice cases comprise a large portion of the cases that are filed in Florida courts each year. To help courts sort through the claims, and to ensure that only meritorious claims are presented to the court, the Florida legislature has implemented a requirement that all medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed with an accompanying certificate of counsel. The certificate must state that counsel has conducted a reasonable investigation into the case and that the plaintiff’s theory of liability is supported by at least one medical expert’s opinion. A failure to file this certificate may result in the dismissal of an otherwise meritorious case.

Pills in HandA recent decision issued by a Vermont appellate court illustrates what can happen if a plaintiff fails to file the required certificate.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving loved one of a woman who had died after ingesting a lethal combination of prescription and non-prescription medication. After the plaintiff discovered how her loved one had died, she filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor who had prescribed the deceased woman the prescription medication. According to the court’s opinion, the doctor had prescribed several different types and doses of opioid medication.

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baby-boy-1281127-m-3.jpgIn a recent case the parents of a child with birth defects sued an ob-gyn and the woman’s health clinic where she worked for medical malpractice. The child had severe birth defects that the parents believed were caused by a drug the woman had stared taking again in order to treat a chronic disease.

The woman claimed that the clinic knew she was planning to have a second child. An over-the-counter pregnancy test yielded a positive result. Two visits a few days later the clinic told her the pregnancy was nonviable.

The clinic recommended she have a dilation and curettage. She refused. After that she started taking a drug again believing the fetus would be expelled spontaneously. She claimed later she was not aware of the potential adverse effects of taking the drug should the baby be born. The baby was born.

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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency spent 2012 cracking down on entities they felt enhanced prescription drug abuse, including two CVS pharmacies near Orlando. Narcotic drug abuse often leads to serious injuries or death. Pharmacies have a responsibility to handle the drugs they prescribe with professional care. This can range from ensuring individual attention to a patient filling multiple prescriptions for narcotics in a short period of time, or avoiding an alarming number of pain-killer prescriptions that contribute to illegal sale and use.

Pharmacists are the gate keepers to safe, responsible controlled substance use. If they fail in their duties, then life-long injuries or death can occur, regardless of whether it was a narcotic or other medication. If you’ve been affected by a prescription drug error, Miami attorneys Friedman, Rodman & Frank can help you find the legal relief you need.

Two other Florida whole-sale distributors were also blocked from shipping out certain drugs to other pharmacies. This is an extension of the D.E.A.’s attempt to crack down on the “pill mill” of prescription drugs funneled from companies or doctors’ offices that present themselves as legitimate. The D.E.A. picked the distributors and pharmacies based on the high volume of suspicious sales. Pharmacists and pharmacies are now moving forward with caution, balancing regulations with patient care.

pills and cup.jpgFollowing statutory regulations while providing patient care is not a new task to those handling medications. The Florida Court of Appeals previously held that a pharmacist has the duty to warn “customers of the risks inherent in filling repeated and unreasonable prescriptions with potentially fatal consequences”. In Powers v. Thobani,et al., No. 4D04-2061 (Fl. Ct. App. June 1, 2005), the pharmacist filled several prescription of pain killers before previous prescriptions were scheduled to run-out. The court pointed out that pharmacists were already under a duty to interpret and assess the prescription order for potential adverse reactions, interactions, and dosage regimen he or she felt appropriate, prior to the transfer of the drug.

Florida courts have long viewed that the state legislature never intended to create a private cause of action when it enacted a statute requiring pharmacists to check for harmful reactions and interactions and to counsel customers. (See Johnson v. Walgreen Co., 675 So.2d 1036 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996) However, injured patients can always look toward any acts of negligence to support a civil suit claim against the pharmacist or pharmacy. (See Pysz v. Henry’s Drug Store, 457 So.2d 561 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1984). If the pharmacist confused medications while filling a prescription because he or she was overworked or tired, then that pharmacist failed to meet the established set of professional standards set by various regulatory bodies.

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