A bad drug interaction or an adverse reaction caused when one drug interacts or interferes with another drug, is an extremely common issue, particularly among those with multiple health issues. As such, the elderly population is often at the highest level of risk. However, anyone taking more than one medication – even over-the-counter drugs – can be at risk for a bad drug interaction.
So who is responsible if one happens? Is it the doctor that prescribed the medication? Is it the pharmacist that filled it? Or both? The answer is a little obscure, particularly when examining former cases involving physician liability in bad drug interaction. However, as a general rule, they may be implicated for a variety of reasons that may or may not be directly related to whether or not they have a duty to warn.
Courts Divided on Pharmacist's Duty to Warn
Over the last decade, injured parties have brought dozens of cases against pharmacists that failed to counsel and warn patients on a possible drug interaction. In some, the courts ruled that pharmacists do not have a general duty to warn patients about their prescribed drugs and, instead, claimed this was the responsibility of the manufacturer and prescribing physician. However, there have also been numerous court rulings that have held pharmacists liable, stating that, because they are legally obligated to counsel patients, they have a duty to warn the risk of a bad drug interaction is present.
Bad Drug Interactions Account for Less than One Percent of Pharmacist Liability Cases
Over the last decade, 1,409 medication-related incidents against pharmacists were reported to pharmacist liability insurance companies. Of those, only 0.6 percent were related to bad drug interactions. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that more than 2 million adverse drug reactions occur each year. In light of that information, it is clear pharmacists are not being held liable for all interactions. But they have been held liable for a number of other factors that may have potentially caused a bad interaction.
According to the Healthcare Providers Service Organization, approximately 43 percent of all allegations against pharmacists were related to prescribing the wrong medication. Another 31.5 percent were alleged to have provided the wrong dose. Other possible factors included failure to consult with the prescribing physician over a concern or question (4.9 percent), failure to identify overdosing (3.1 percent), providing the wrong form or route (2.5 percent), giving a filled prescription to the wrong patient (3.1 percent), improper substitution (1.9 percent), and providing the wrong strength of medication (0.6 percent).
Injured Due to Pharmacist Negligence?
When drug interactions happen, pharmacists are sometimes overlooked for their role. However, it is clear that, in some cases, they really should be considered as a negligent party. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to pin down the exact cause of a bad drug interaction. As such, victims should seek professional legal help to ensure every possible cause and contributing individual is considered.
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http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/DevelopmentResources/DrugInteractionsLabeling/ucm110632.htm#Preventing Drug Interactions