Wrong Medicines Dispensed Caused Further Illness
Posted on 27th January 2023 at 10:33
My retired client would regularly receive her prescribed tablets, directly delivered, by her local chemist. The delivery arrived in the usual seven boxes with the tablets inside. On each box was a label which confirmed the correct medication and dosage. My client did not notice anything unusual.
She began taking the tablets as prescribed on a morning and an evening but after just over a week she began to feel unwell and had trouble sleeping. Shortly afterwards her symptoms increased to include headaches, nausea and swellings in her legs. At this time, she then investigated her medication further and noticed that the prescriptive label describing the correct medication had been stuck on the tablet packet, but that the packet itself indicated a different type of medication that she was not familiar with. When she tried to contact the chemist, they were closed, so she immediately arranged to visit her local accident and emergency department, where she was advised to stop taking the medication and to arrange to see her GP for further advice. Arrangements were made for an emergency delivery of the correct medication with the incorrect medication being disposed of.
The starting point in all negligence cases involves an investigation in order to prove breach of duty. In this particular case establishing breach of duty was not difficult. The dispensing chemist had clearly labelled incorrect medication to make it look, at first sight, that the tablets in the box were the correct ones. It was foreseeable for my client to begin taking the tablets believing that they were the correct ones as made out by the labelling. The breach of duty issue was not disputed.
In order for there to be a successful case I needed to prove, on balance of probabilities, that the medication error was the reason for my client to have suffered the symptoms which she did. Putting it another way, I needed to show that the breach of duty had caused some form of injury. It was necessary therefore to collect all the medical records by way of the hospital and GP attendances and add these to my clients own evidence of the symptoms that she had suffered with.
The insurers on behalf of the dispensing chemist then disputed that those symptoms could have been caused by the medication error and argued that it was merely coincidental that my client suffered with these types of symptoms shortly after the medication mix up.
In order to overcome the position adopted by the dispensing chemist insurers, expert medical evidence was required. I therefore contacted an independent expert witness service, run by two forensic pharmacologists to commission a report. They confirmed that it was most likely that the reaction suffered by my client was caused by the dispensing error. The report therefore linked the breach of duty to the injury and provided me with the evidence which I needed to pursue a successful claim on behalf of my client.
Upon being faced with the experts report the dispensing chemists’ insurers accepted liability for the injury suffered by my client and agreed to pay an appropriate award of compensation.
This case highlighted the fact that when there has been an obvious dispensing error it is not always straight forward to recover compensation for health issues which seem on the face of it to have been caused by the medication mix up.
In a case like this it is not only the fact that the client is taking a type of medication which they are not supposed to be taking, but also that they are missing medication which they should be taking. There is often therefore a double whammy.
Often the defendant will not simply accept that the medication mix up causes the symptoms complained about, and as in this case, expert pharmaceutical evidence is often needed to prove the case.
CAN I MAKE A CLAIM?
You may be able to make a claim if you have been a victim of for example:
• Receiving someone else’s medicine
• Receiving the wrong medicine
• Receiving too much or too little medicine
• If you were not warned by the pharmacist of potential interactions with other medicines
• If you were incorrectly directed on how to take your medicine
• If the pharmacy failed to warn you of allergies
If you feel you may need to make a pharmaceutical negligence claim, or to speak to a member of the Medical Negligence Team for advice, please call us on 0113 2007480 or fill in our contact form below and one of the team will call you back.
• Review your situation to see if you have a claim
• Determine if your case is suitable for a No Win No Fee agreement
• Determine the next steps to be taken
Share this post: