Our personal injury lawyers have seen in increased volume of overdose and pharmacy negligence cases over the past year.
Why is that?
Perhaps more of the population is dependent on pharmaceutical medication? With that increased volume of customers for pharmacists; there is a greater chance for human error when dispensing medication.
The purpose of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog is to examine and explain overdose and pharmacy negligence cases; along with what steps a person should take in the unfortunate event that they fall victim to an overdose through no fault of their own.
When we speak of overdose cases; we speak of situations which do not involve intentional overdoses whereby a person intends to inflict self harm by taking too much medication.
These are situations where a person has been prescribed medication by their doctor; and the medication which has been dispensed by the pharmacist is either the entirely wrong medication, or the wrong dosage. The plaintiff has no idea they are taking the wrong medication or the wrong dosage. They have put their trust in to the pharmacist’s hands to dispensing the right medication along with the right dosage. Putting your trust in the hands of an experienced and licensed professional such as a pharmacist is not uncommon. We all can’t be licensed and trained pharmacists. We trust their experience, training and education to get the job done.
When then wrong medication is dispensed, or the wrong dose of medication is given; it can create a very dangerous situation for the person who injected the medication. If not treated immediately, it can be fatal or have life long medical consequences.
Here are some common examples of pharmacy negligence cases we have seen.
Scenario #1: The pharmacist mixes us the prescriptions and dispenses prescription “A” to patient “B” and vice versa. As a result of the mix up, one or both patients get sick, or have a negative reaction to the medication. This can be a very dangerous situation where one of the patients is allergic to the medication ingested.
Scenario #2: The pharmacist messes up on the dosage. We commonly see this in methadone cases whereby a person is prescribed 1cc of methadone and they are given 10ccs. The decimal point or the additional zero added will cause serious medical problems which need to be treated right away.
Scenario #3: The pharmacist makes an error on preparing the blister pack for the patient. The pharmacist either misses a daily medication, puts in too many pills; or too few pills in to each pack. This too can cause serious medical problems, particularly with weak, sick and elderly people.
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN OVERDOSE OR PHARMACY NEGLIGENCE
The obvious starting point is calling 911 for an ambulance or getting medical assistance right away. Getting immediate medical attention after you’ve ingested the wrong medication, or too much medication is paramount. Don’t play around with this because the consequences can be life long; it not deadly.
Once your health condition has settled, you may certainly contact the pharmacy to alert them to the dispensing error. This puts them on alert that they internal safety systems and protocols aren’t working so that other members of the public are protected. You would hope that the pharmacy takes extra precaution after a dispensing error is reported to them. Some pharmacies are more cautious and responsive than others.
We also recommend that you make a complaint against the Pharmacy/Pharmacist to the Ontario College of Pharmacists. This is the regulatory body which oversees licensed pharmacists in the Province of Ontario. They also oversee protecting the public from pharmacist negligence and disciplining pharmacists for their errors/negligence. Members of the public can file complaints against pharmacists in Ontario using the College’s online complaint form which can be found here.
It’s helpful, but not necessary to make a complaint to the College in a pharmacy negligence case. A finding of guilt will help a civil negligence case; but it will not be a determining factor in whether or not a civil negligence case will succeed or not. It would certainly be difficult for an insurer to argue against a pharmacist’s negligence in the event their own regulator has found that the pharmacist made a dispensing error and disciplined them for their actions.
The Pharmacy or their insurer may want to take a statement from you (in person, over the phone, in writing). You are under no obligation to answer questions from the pharmacy’s insurance company. And certainly do not do so without a personal injury lawyer at your side. While they may present the statement as an innocent information gathering exercise; this is only a half truth. The pharmacy’s insurer wants to gather as much information as they can (often from you), so that they can build a strong defense against any future claim which you may bring against the pharmacy in the future. By participating in statement without a personal injury lawyer, all you are doing is helping the insurance company defeat your claim. You are helping them win. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot and get hurt twice. The fact that the pharmacy’s insurance company is taking your case seriously should tell you something. You need to take your claim seriously as well and lawyer up.
Finally, we would recommend changing pharmacies while you are in the midst of litigation or a formal complaint has been issued against the offending pharmacy. This can be easier said than done for many people who reside in remote communities where there is only one pharmacy in town. But, if you live in an area with more than one pharmacy, it’s a bad look to argue that you have lost complete confidence in the offending pharmacy, yet you continue to go there regularly for your medication. It’s sucking and blowing at the same time. You will loose all credibility and hurt your case. The caveat remains if you’re not able to switch pharmacies because of where you live, or for other factors (mobility issues, disability issues etc.).
If you have more questions about overdoes and pharmacy negligence cases, contact Goldfinger Injury Lawyers toll free at 1-877-730-1777 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org