Lawsuit vs Pharmacy; Elderly Patient Given Wrong Medication and Doesn’t Realize Until Refill!

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice

An out-of-state woman has just filed a lawsuit against the pharmacy chain Rite Aid—who also has stores in New York—after she found out they gave her the wrong medication.  She was prescribed the muscle relaxant hydralazine because it will help lower her blood pressure.  When she went to the pharmacy to pick it up, her pharmacist actually gave her hydroxyzine by mistake.  Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine that is not suggested for the elderly and can actually be very dangerous for them, particularly combined with other medications.

            The woman took the medication for a whole month because going in for a refill when another pharmacist realized the mistake!  The woman had suffered greatly from taking the hydroxyzine for a whole month.  She had an increase in the frequency and severity of seizures, a significant decrease in vision (likely from her high blood pressure which was unregulated), and an altered mental state.

            The lawsuit she just filed claims the pharmacist was negligent by failing to properly fill her prescription and failing to catch the error.  As I have posted in other blog posts, she also went after Rite Aid—the deep pocket in the litigation—claiming that they are negligent in their hiring practices, failed to maintain a safe procedure for dispensing medicine, and violated state and federal laws and regulations regarding medications.

            Not only do we depend on our doctors to properly prescribe medications to us, we also rely on the pharmacists as almost a check and balance system.  The patient gives the pharmacist a slip from the doctor, and the pharmacist—who has superior knowledge of the pharmaceuticals, must more than a doctor—checks the medication’s benefits, risks, and alternatives with the patient’s background.  In this case, the doctor was right but the pharmacist was completely negligent in dispensing the medication properly.  What is scarier is that this did happen to an elderly individual who is more susceptible to harm from the error; similarly, a young child or baby would also be in great danger.

            I hope this case it a warning to pharmacist to double check your double checks.  This elderly individual is at the mercy of the pharmacist.  She clearly does not understand her medication regimen which is a product of such prescriptions, and the pharmacist is the last in line to not only prescribe this medication but to also teach her about it.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] .  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com

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