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Pharmacy Errors

Rx mortar and pestleNJ pharmacy error attorneys serving Hackensack, Paramus, and all of Bergen County and northern New Jersey.

The attorneys of Eisbrouch Marsh know that mistakes happen—but when a mistake involves a pharmacist giving you the wrong pill to treat your illness, suddenly a pharmacy mistake can become serious or even deadly.

That is when you may need a competent New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer who can help you recoup your losses in the way of medical bills, missed work, pain and suffering, and wrongful death.  Our team of attorneys and medical and insurance experts are uniquely poised to serve clients who, like yourself, have experienced unnecessary personal injuries because of pharmacy errors.

Pharmacy errors nationwide

U.S. injuries and fatalities due to prescription errors are on the rise.  This climb in deaths may be because of a number of factors, such as the advent of big chain pharmacies, a proliferation of outpatient medical care options, and increased pressures on increasingly stressed pharmacy employees who on average fill a new prescription every 5 minutes.

“There’s been a tremendous increase in fatal pharmacy errors over the past 20 years” says David Phillips, a University of California professor who studies the phenomenon.

One study found that between 1983 and 1998, deadly prescription errors—namely, mistakes resulting in human fatalities—increased by 243%.  This increase in casualties outpaced the accompanying increase in number of prescriptions as well as increases in fatalities from other causes of death during that period.

In recent years, the actual number of pharmacy errors every year is in fact much higher: one Pharmacy Times study puts the figure at 51 million, estimating that 1.5 million persons suffer injuries and 200,000 die as a result of pharmacy errors.

More than half of 1,000 community pharmacists surveyed in a nationwide survey conducted in 1996, admitted to making a dispensing error in the previous 60 days.  (This admission is probably a conservative one.)  Considering that one-third of Americans now take five medications on a regular basis, we suspect the chances that more and more Americans will be affected by pharmacy error will only grow stronger.

In the greater New Jersey and New York City areas, specialty compounding pharmacies that custom-mix medications for individual patients are under intensified scrutiny, after lapses in safety and poor regulation shone light on questionable practices at the New England Compounding Center.  The Center’s contaminated steroid shots were linked to 45 deaths and 651 illnesses, and were the subject of an investigative article in a February 2013 issue of The Washington Post.

Here in New Jersey, as elsewhere, the most commonly occurring pharmacy errors are prescriptions for the wrong dose or the wrong medication.  In some cases, failure to give adequate warning of side effects, for example through mislabeling, can also be an easy pharmacy error.

Recently, the New Jersey Attorney General fined CVS $650,000 after it found multiple stores made medication mistakes, including, shockingly, dispensing as many as 50 children the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen instead of fluoride pills.

Types of pharmacy errors

In addition to the two evil stepsisters of wrong dosing instructions and mislabeling (giving the wrong medicine), Eisbrouch Marsh litigates pharmacy errors due to:

  • A pharmacy failing to dispense proper counseling about drug interactions and side effects
  • Incorrect compounding of a medication
  • A pharmacist’s misreading of doctor’s original prescription

Work conditions such as high numbers of incoming prescriptions, constant interruptions and similar-sounding drug names can all conspire to make these sorts of “mechanical” pharmacy errors understandable but nonetheless still dangerous and preventable.

Injuries and deaths from pharmacy mistakes 

Personal injuries resulting from pharmacy errors can be catastrophic. Often, the elderly population is most susceptible to pharmacy negligence, since older Americans are more likely to be taking more medications and tend to be more vulnerable.  On occasion, an alarming news report will play out a family’s worst nightmare, such as the case of one 92-year-old woman who was delivered 30 times the normal amount of Oxycontin required to treat a bacterial infection.  The woman died after months of enduring a pharmacy error-induced coma.  Her family received a generous medical malpractice settlement.

Malpractice lawsuits arising from pharmacy error

Pharmacies, like medical providers, can be held liable for mistakes causing injuries or death.  This is because pharmacists, like doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, are held to certain standards of care: wherever they work, pharmacists owe patients a “duty of care;” in cases in which pharmacists breach that duty of care, they may be held liable for their actions.

Patients filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a pharmacy can demand financial compensation for costs resulting from a serious pharmacy error—as well as punitive damages against a defendant that has shown negligence in dispensing with its medications.

New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers

If you find yourself or a loved one on the receiving end of a pharmacy error and are experiencing serious or life-threatening side effects, the law firm of Eisbrouch Marsh is here to be your voice and your advocate. We serve Essex, Middlesex, Passaic, Morris, Hudson and Bergen County in northern NJ, as well as all 5 boroughs of New York City. Contact our offices today for a free consultation: 201-342-5545.  Our attorneys operate on a contingent fee basis, so we only collect compensation when you do.

  1. NBC News 4 Washington, “Prescription for Error? I-Team Investigates Pharmacy Mistakes,” http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Perscription-Errors-Pharmacy-CVS-Investigation-246947451.html 
  2. US Pharmacist, “Identifying Factors That Cause Pharmacy Errors,” http://www.uspharmacist.com/continuing_education/ceviewtest/lessonid/105916/
  3. The Washington Post, “Compounding pharmacies have been linked to deaths, illnesses for years,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/compounding-pharmacies-have-been-linked-to-deaths-illnesses-for-years/2013/02/07/5ba90132-6b19-11e2-ada3-d86a4806d5ee_story.html