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Pharmacy not Liable for Prescription that Caused Death


Pharmacy not Liable for Prescription that Caused Death

Consulting a medical malpractice attorney in Jacksonville can help direct you towards whom to go after in regards to the lawsuit.

A pharmacy was deemed not liable for overly strong painkillers prescribed by a physician that can cause death.

In October 2007, a man had surgery at a hospital in Long Island, New York.   In the hospital, the man was given 6 milligrams of hydromorphone, and afterward, the surgeon wrote a prescription directing him to take 8 milligrams of the same drug every three to four hours after he was released.  CVS filled that prescription, and after taking one dose, the husband was gasping for air.   The man’s wife called for an ambulance, but he died before it arrived from what was determined to be “acute hydromorphone intoxication.”  In a wrongful death lawsuit, the deceased’s wife sued the surgeon for negligent prescribing, claiming a dosage that large is dangerous for someone who had never taken an opioid before, and sued CVS and one of its pharmacists for filling the prescription without taking steps to confirm the dosage was appropriate.

A New York appeals court ruled recently that a CVS pharmacist who filled a very strong painkiller prescription that allegedly led to a man’s death cannot be held responsible for not questioning what the physician had prescribed.  According to the ruling, the pharmacy and its employees can’t be sued for filling a prescription exactly as prescribed that didn’t stray dramatically from what considered ordinary, thus, is affirming summary judgment to CVS in Marie Abrams’ suit to recover personal injury damages. The pharmacist’s responsibility is to make sure the right drug was given with the proper dosage and directions.

The court opined:

“We conclude that when a pharmacist has demonstrated that he or she did not undertake to exercise any independent professional judgment in filling and dispensing prescription medication, a pharmacist cannot be held liable for negligence in the absence of evidence that he or she failed to fill the prescription precisely as directed by the prescribing physician or that the prescription was so clearly contraindicated that ordinary prudence required the pharmacist to take additional measures before dispensing the medication,”

The court also found that the dangers of drugs falls on the manufacturer, which must inform physicians, who then make educated prescriptions.

“A rule that requires a pharmacist to independently evaluate the propriety of a physician’s prescription would ‘not only place an undue burden on pharmacists, but would likely create antagonistic relations between pharmacists and physicians, and interfere with the patient-physician relationship,'” the opinion states, quoting precedent.

If you or a loved one suffered from any form of medical malpractice, allow a Jacksonville medical malpractice attorney to provide a free consultation. Contact an esteemed personal Jacksonville medical malpractice attorney at Edwards & Ragatz for a free consultation: (904) 295-1050 or through our website

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