If your condition has suffered as a result of a mistaken or inadequate medical prescription, you may have the basis for a pharmacy negligence claim. Medical negligence is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of malpractice, and pharmacy negligence is a relatively uncommon branch. 

Errors in prescribing medication are few and far between, and oftentimes mistakes that do happen do not cause patients any direct harm or injury. Still, pharmacy negligence does occur in Ireland, and if you are victim to any oversight from a pharmacist or general practitioner, you should consider making contact with an experienced medical negligence solicitor.

At Hughes & Associates, our team of specialist solicitors can assess your case and help guide you through the process of making a pharmacy negligence claim. Get in touch by phoning us on +353 1 891 0020 or emailing info@hughessolicitors.ie.

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What is Pharmacy Negligence?

Pharmacy workers carry a responsibility to patients in the prescription of medication. When that duty of care is breached, and an inadequate prescription directly results in a patient’s condition deteriorating, there may be grounds for a pharmacy negligence case. 

Errors around prescriptions usually arise when:

  • The wrong type of medication is prescribed, leading to a patient’s condition deteriorating.
  • The wrong amount of medication is prescribed, with a patient receiving either too much or not enough medicine to remedy their ailment.

There are plenty of different situations in which pharmacy negligence can arise. Pharmacists can only be held accountable for negligence if it can be proven that their actions were unreasonable and resulted in direct harm to a patient.

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Types of Pharmacy Negligence

The wrong drug is dispensed

The wrong dosage is dispensed

A harmful drug interaction

A drug allergy

A lack of consideration for patients underlying condition

Administrative & labelling errors

If you feel as though you have been a victim of pharmacy negligence, it is worth getting in touch with a solicitor to have your case assessed. Cases vary widely from person to person and all manner of malpractice can ultimately amount to pharmacy negligence. 

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Some of the more common cases of inadequate pharmacy care include:

The wrong drug is dispensed claim

Occasionally a pharmacist will make the error of dispensing the wrong medicine. A patient’s prescription may provide accurate details of an appropriate prescription, but human error can lead to the wrong drug being dispensed. This can be the result of a patient receiving a prescription intended for another person, or a prescription that looks or sounds similar to their own.

The wrong dosage is dispensed claim

Similarly, a pharmacy worker can make the error of dispensing the wrong dosage prescribed to a patient. An inappropriate amount of medicine, be it too much or too little, can sometimes have a major impact on a patient’s condition. Again, this can occur if a patient is mistakenly given a prescription meant for someone else.

A harmful drug interaction claim

Pharmacists are responsible for recognising the potential for a damaging reaction to multiple drugs on a patient’s prescription. Sometimes patients can be prescribed drugs from several practitioners, and, in these cases, a pharmacist must recognise the potential for an adverse reaction. 

A drug allergy claim

Patients must be advised on the potential for a harmful reaction to medication that impacts allergies. Pharmacists must gauge whether a patient has previously experienced any allergy symptoms that could be replicated by the drugs in their prescription.

A lack of consideration for a patient’s underlying conditions claim

If you provide detail of any underlying medical issues that you experience, a pharmacist should account for any potential aggravation that could arise from your prescription. If your underlying condition is negatively impacted by treatment you receive for another ailment, they may be held liable.

Administrative & labelling errors claim

A poor filing system or a failure to interpret a GP’s handwriting can see a patient receive the wrong prescription.

Failure to properly advise a patient on their treatment claim

A patient should be informed of how much medication to take, as well as how to take it. The wrong instructions can have an impact on their condition. 

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Contributory Pharmacy Negligence

If it can be proven that part of the fault in a case of pharmacy negligence lies with the patient, their chances of success in a legal case may suffer. 

For example, if you receive medication that has an adverse effect on your health, but you continue to take the drug and do not seek medical attention, you may be seen as a contributor to the medical negligence. 

Another instance of contributory negligence could arise if you do not pay appropriate attention to instructions and guidelines provided on any accompanying leaflet you receive alongside your prescription. 

Contributory negligence can have a big impact on the result of pharmacy negligence cases, and it is another area that must be assessed should you choose to contact a solicitor.  

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How to Prove Pharmacy Negligence

There are several steps involved in attaching blame to the pharmacist in a medical negligence case. Proving a practitioner’s malpractice can be difficult, and it is important to demonstrate the basis of liability with regards to:

  1. Duty: it is expected that a pharmacist maintains a certain standard of care. In cases of negligence, it is important to recognise and quantify that standard. The more precise we can be in defining the pharmacist’s role, the better chance we will have of showing that they did not act in a reasonable, professional manner. 
  2. Breach of Care: this is arguably the most difficult, and most important step involved in proving pharmacy negligence. Once the expected standard of care has been acknowledged, it must be proven that a pharmacist did not act with a reasonable level of skill and competence. This means demonstrating inadequate care that does not meet the required professional standard.  
  3. Causation: once it has been proven that a pharmacist acted in a manner that could be considered unreasonable, it must be shown that their behaviour directly resulted in a patient’s condition deteriorating. If, for example, the wrong amount of medicine was prescribed, but it did not cause the patient any harm, it may be difficult to prove any pharmacy negligence.
  4. Damages: this step is concerned with the compensation a plaintiff will be entitled to in the event of a successful pharmacy negligence claim. Damages can be calculated based on earnings lost during an enforced absence from work as well as any medical expenses that arose from the incident involved.

Can I Claim for Pharmacy Negligence

To claim for pharmacy negligence, you must prove:

  • You received inadequate medical care from a pharmacist.
  • Their malpractice caused your medical condition to suffer.

The basis for medical negligence cases, in that sense, essentially stays the same across every medical discipline. With that being said, medical negligence cases vary hugely, and pharmacy negligence is no exception.

A successful legal claim can hinge on any physical suffering that comes about following the incident of pharmacy malpractice, as well as any financial loss that a patient incurs while they are inhibited by their medical condition.  

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Assess My Pharmacy Negligence Case

If you believe you have the basis for a pharmacy negligence case, you should consider getting in touch with a specialist solicitor that holds experience in the area of medical negligence. 

At Hughes & Associates, we operate out of Dublin 2 and are on hand to assess your grounds for a pharmacy negligence claim. Contact us over the phone on +353 1 891 0020 or by emailing info@hughessolicitors.ie.

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