The Tragic Consequences of Pharmacy Error in Georgia


May 17, 2011

A pharmacist has a duty to safeguard their patients from pharmacy error.

Every year close to one million people are seriously injured due to pharmacy errors and close to a million people actually die from prescription drug errors.

Some examples of pharmacy error include:

  • Filling the wrong prescriptions
  • Filling the wrong dosage
  • Providing the wrong instructions for taking the medication
  • Failing to check for possible drug interactions

Low Level Technicians

One of the biggest problems in the industry is that there are no minimum national standards for training of pharmacy technicians. The technicians are often no more qualified to work in a pharmacy than a teenager taking a first job in a fast food restaurant. They are supposed to work under the close supervision of licensed pharmacists, but in many cases, they are filling prescriptions incorrectly with tragic consequences.

It does not help that some of the chain pharmacies like Walgreens or CVS may try to increase profits by having pharmacists oversee prescriptions that are being filled by multiple technicians at a time. These pharmacy workers are severely overworked and barely have any time to take even short breaks.

In Florida, for example, a teenage pharmacy technician filled a woman's prescription for blood thinner pills and instead of typing in one milligram on the label she typed in ten milligrams for the dosage requirement. The woman, after taking the pills at the recommended dosage as printed on the label, suffered a massive crippling stroke and was forced to stop treatment of early stage breast cancer.

Tragically, she died even before her personal injury case went to trial. The court later upheld a judgement against Walgreens in the amount of $25.8 million. This was one of the largest judgements in history in a case involving prescription error. Prior to her job as a technician at the pharmacy, the pharmacy technician’s work experience consisted only of having worked at a movie theater making popcorn.

Overworked Pharmacists

A University of North Carolina study found that the average retail pharmacist's workload increased by 57 percent between 1991 and 2000. This means that a typical pharmacist was filling a prescription an average of every five minutes compared with every eight minutes in 1991. This was in part due to the increase in the over 65 population with a need for prescription medications.

When pharmacists were interviewed, they cited these reasons as the most common causes for pharmacy errors:

  • Too many telephone calls (62%)
  • Overload / unusually busy day (59%)
  • Too many customers (53%)
  • Lack of concentration (41%)
  • No one available to double-check (41%)
  • Staff shortage (32%)
  • Similar drug names (29%)
  • No time to counsel (29%)
  • Illegible prescription (26%)
  • Misinterpreted prescription (24%)

No Reporting Requirements

Currently, there are no actual published figures on how many pharmacy errors there are in this country because pharmacies are not required under federal law to report prescription errors even if these errors result in serious injury or death. The drug chains carefully guard this data and typically refuse to even disclose whether the numbers are going up or down over time.

What You Can Do

Prescription drug errors are usually preventable with the implementation of appropriate procedures and precautions and the application of reasonable care. When they are not prevented and serious or catastrophic harm results to the patient, the responsible parties should be held accountable.

At Montlick and Associates we believe in using the legal system to hold negligent pharmacies, their pharmacists, and their technicians liable for the harm that they cause. Our Georgia pharmacy negligence lawyers will work hard to build your case so that you can pursue justice and appropriate compensation for your loss.

If you find yourself injured due to a prescription drug error you may have a malpractice claim. Contact an attorney as soon as possible. In Georgia, as in all states, there are statute of limitations for filing malpractice cases and failure to comply with these time limits will result in a loss of the right to file a claim.

If you or someone you love have been the victim of pharmacy negligence contact the compassionate Georgia pharmacy malpractice attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law for a free consultation to learn about your rights and how we can help. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.