Drew Pruitt of our firm recently settled a case on behalf of a gentleman who was given the wrong prescription and, as a result, ended up suffering rhabdomyolysis, which required him to be hospitalized on three separate occasions. Instead of giving him his prescribed medication, for nerve pain, the pharmacy gave our client a completely different medication with a similar name, which is used to treat high cholesterol. Moreover, the dosage instructions were based on the nerve pain medication, and therefore he took much more of the cholesterol medication than is normally prescribed.
These types of errors are common. When pharmacists or pharmacy technicians attempt to decipher scribbled prescriptions written by doctors, while customers are lined up at the pharmacy, mistakes are sometimes made as to the names of medications or dosages. Sometimes doctors or their employees submit incorrect information to pharmacies, but even if that situation, the pharmacist has a duty to double-check to make sure that the patient is being given the correct medication in the correct dosage.
Unfortunately, pharmacists are considered “health care providers” within the meaning of the MICRA law (Civil Code section 3333.2), and, therefore, non-economic damages in pharmacy error cases are most likely capped at $250,000. However, cases with clear-cut liability or substantial economic damages are still worth pursuing.