A Coconino County jury awarded one of the largest wrongful death verdicts to the family of a high school coach who died after taking a lethal combination of medications which should never have been dispensed together. The jury found that Walgreens pharmacy should have warned the patient and his physician about the lethal and toxic effects that the pain medications Tramadol and Methadone have when taken together. Presumably, the jury believed that the pharmacy had the last known opportunity to prevent a lethal combination of drugs from getting into the hands of a patient who did not have any idea about the toxic effects of these drugs when administered together. The jury likely concluded that Walgreens pharmacy should have discovered the extreme lethal dangers when technicians first input both prescriptions into the pharmacy computer system. Unfortunately, I do not believe that this prescription error was an isolated occurrence in pharmacies throughout the nation. Pharmacy prescription errors are a leading cause of death and injury in our country. Additionally, medical errors in general affect one in ten patients worldwide.
In this Arizona case, the jury awarded six million dollars to the plaintiffs who alleged pharmacy malpractice arguing that the:
Walgreens pharmacist who filled his prescriptions should have warned Warren and his doctor that the drugs shouldn’t be used together. Technicians should have received a computer warning of the interactions, they argued.
Walgreen countered that Warren was negligent and caused his own death or that his doctor was negligent in prescribing the medication.
When you receive a prescription, do you believe that the pharmacist will dispense the right medication and not some similarly sounding drug? Do you believe the pharmacist will explain the proper dosage, administration and usage to you? Do you believe the pharmacist will warn you about any drug interactions you may face? Do you believe the pharmacist will give you an opportunity to ask questions? I believe safe administration of medication should be a priority in all pharmacies. I also believe that the wrong medication should never leave a pharmacy if the pharmacist and staff prioritize patient safety when dispensing controlled substances. I guess the Coconino County jury agreed.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices and Implants.