A dispensing error is when a patient receives medication from a pharmacy which is different to that which has been prescribed.
Pharmacies have systems in place to ensure patients receive the medication prescribed to them. Different Pharmacies have their own systems, however often a prescription will be processed and the medication prepared by a Dispensing Assistant and before it is allowed to be dispensed, it is checked by a second person, a Pharmacist.
Unfortunately errors can happen for a number of reasons, such as when names of medicine look or sound similar, when the pharmacy is busy or short-staffed, or due to interruptions during dispensing.
Errors often include:
- Dispensing incorrect medicine
- Dispensing the wrong quantity or strength of medication
- Dispensing medication with inaccurate information on the label
- Failing to include any additional warnings required
For a legal claim to succeed it is not enough to establish the incorrect medication has been dispensed. A patient must also suffer an adverse reaction to this incorrect medication, which would otherwise not have occurred.
Case report: Incorrect medication dispense
A Partner in our Clinical Negligence department negotiated a settlement in the sum of £2,000 for Mrs K after antidepressant medication was dispensed rather than medication to alleviate migraines. She suffered severe abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, became uncoordinated and felt suicidal. As well as compensation for these symptoms, she was unable to work for a few days and was reimbursed for her loss of earnings.
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