Can You Sue A Pharmacy For Giving The Wrong Medication?
By Mark Allen. Last Updated 12th July 2021. Welcome to our wrong medication claims guide. This guide covers everything about wrong prescription claims. A doctor or medical professional prescribes medication to try and cure an underlying condition or to alleviate pain.
However, if a pharmacist makes a mistake and the wrong medication is dispensed, your illness could be made worse. You could suffer an adverse reaction to the drugs, or you could even suffer an allergic reaction.
In cases where your suffering can be shown to have been caused by the pharmacist’s negligence, you could be entitled to claim compensation from them. In this guide, we’ll look at what happens if you are given the wrong medication, when the pharmacist could be liable and when you could claim for their error.
Medical Negligence Assist are specialists in helping people claim for medical negligence. Our staff provide free advice on claiming. Also, they’ll assess your claim and the evidence you have on a no-obligation basis. If your case has a chance of being won, they could introduce you to one of our panel of solicitors. Any case they take on is carried out on a No Win No Fee basis. Are you ready to begin your wrong medication claims right away? If so, call our advisers on 0800 652 3087 to discuss your options for wrong prescription claims.
Alternatively, to find out more about what to do if a pharmacy gives you the wrong medication, please continue reading.
Select A Section
- A Guide On What You Could Do If The Pharmacy Gives The Wrong Medication
- What Is Pharmacy Wrong Medication Negligence?
- Professional Standards For Pharmacies
- What Duty Of Care Should You Expect Of A Pharmacy?
- Causes Of Being Dispensed The Wrong Medication
- Effects Of Being Dispensed The Wrong Medication
- What To Do When A Pharmacy Dispenses The Wrong Medication
- Time limits To Make A Wrong Medication Claim Against A Pharmacy
- What Could I Claim If Dispensed The Wrong Medication By A Pharmacy?
- No Win No Fee Wrong Medication Negligence Claims Against Pharmacies
- How To Make A Pharmacy Negligence Claim
- Start A Negligence Claim
- Supporting Resources
A Guide On What You Could Do If The Pharmacy Gives The Wrong Medication
Pharmacists are an important part of any chain of treatment you receive. They are classed as medical professionals and, as such, have a duty of care towards patients. This means that if you receive the wrong medication from a pharmacy, you could claim compensation if the error causes you to suffer in any way.
Generally, when making a personal injury claim, such as wrong medication claims, you need to show:
- That you were made to suffer (physically, psychologically or financially).
- By somebody who owed you a duty of care.
- And that it was their negligence that led to the incident.
If you can show all three of those statements are true, then a personal injury lawyer could be willing to take on your claim. Throughout this wrong prescription guide, we’ll explain the types of mistakes a pharmacy could make, some of the reasons why they might happen and when you could claim if a pharmacy has issued you the wrong medication. We’ll also look at the time limits for making a claim too.
When you’ve read our guide, if you believe you’ve suffered because of pharmacy negligence, we’d love to help you begin a claim. Our advisors provide free advice on claiming. Furthermore, they can assess your claim on a no-obligation basis. If they believe your case has good grounds, you could be introduced to one of our panel of solicitors.
We will choose a solicitor who specialises in medical negligence claims and/or wrong medication claims. They work on a No Win No Fee basis for any claim they work on and will always keep you updated as your case advances. Also, they always work hard to ensure you receive the right level of compensation for your suffering.
What Is Pharmacy Wrong Medication Negligence?
A pharmacist has a duty of care towards their patient’s safety. This means that the medication they dispense should be as the doctor prescribed. There may be many reasons why a mistake could lead to the wrong medication being provided (which we’ll cover shortly), but, whatever the reason, if the mistake causes you to suffer, you could sue for compensation.
Some examples of pharmacy negligence resulting in wrong medication claims include:
- A chemist giving the wrong drug altogether.
- Receiving the right medication but the wrong dosage or strength.
- A doctor giving incorrect or unclear instructions on how to use the medication.
- Receiving somebody else’s medication.
Sometimes, even though the correct container, the wrong medication is placed within it. This can make spotting the error even harder. Therefore, we’ll look later at what you should do if you suspect that you’ve received the wrong medication from a pharmacy.
What is the worst-case scenario for receiving the wrong medication?
This depends on what the medication is and whether the patient has any allergies or underlying health conditions. Because in some victims that receive incorrect medication or incorrect dosages, the symptoms may be minor. Yes, they may suffer from itching, the occasional rash and very small scarring. But their general health will not be at a major risk. However, some victims may react very badly to receiving too much or too little medication or completely wrong medication.
So, for the worst-case scenario, the victim may end up in hospital with serious damage to their organs. Perhaps the person suffering may require surgery and/or strong antibiotics to battle any sudden health complications. In the gravest circumstances, the victim might even die from receiving the wrong medication for their immune system. Hopefully, the wrong prescription situation doesn’t become that serious. But whatever the circumstances, a victim that recognises the receipt of incorrect medication has the right to claim compensation for negligence. Please continue reading this wrong medication claims guide for more information.
Professional Standards For Pharmacies
All pharmacists, technicians and pharmacies are regulated in Great Britain by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). They try to ensure that the public is protected and are assured of the safety of pharmaceutical services. They do this in several different ways. These include the creating and monitoring of standards for pharmacists to work to. The following 9 standards apply to all pharmacy professionals:
- Provide care that is ‘person-centred.
- Work in partnership with others.
- Effective communication.
- Behave professionally.
- Maintain and develop their professional skills.
- Respect patient confidentiality.
- Use their professional judgement.
- Demonstrate leadership.
- Speak up about any concerns they have or if something has gone wrong.
As the regulator for pharmacy professionals, patients can raise any concerns they might have with the GPhC. And any of these could form the basis for your wrong medication claims. So, these concerns could include:
- Dispensing mistakes.
- Criminal conduct.
- Working under the influence of drugs or drink.
- Fraud or dishonesty.
- Practising while unregistered.
What Duty Of Care Should You Expect Of A Pharmacy?
As discussed already, the pharmacy has a very important role to play within your treatment plan. They have a duty of care to try and ensure your health and well-being. According to the GPhC, they have several responsibilities, these include:
- Being responsible for the quality of medicines given to patients.
- Ensuring the law is followed when supplying medicines.
- Making sure that the prescribed medicine is suitable for the patient.
- Providing advice on medicines. This includes allergy information, advice on taking the drug and also answering any questions.
These responsibilities apply to all registered pharmacists, whether based in a high street store, supermarket, doctor’s surgery or hospital.
Causes Of Being Dispensed The Wrong Medication
Before we look at some of the potential reasons for being given the wrong medication, it’s important to note that the person with the duty of care is the pharmacist themselves. If they have staff, like technicians, carrying out prescriptions, the pharmacist is ultimately responsible. Therefore, a compensation claim would be against the pharmacist or their company rather than the individual member of staff.
So, now here are some possible reasons for prescription errors:
- Staff shortages meaning the remaining staff are under pressure and rushing.
- Drugs are mistaken because they have a similar name.
- Poor communication between the pharmacist and doctor.
- Medical abbreviations not being understood or checked.
- Drugs that look similar to each other.
- Patients with similar names being given another patients prescription.
Whatever the reason for a mistake, the pharmacist could be liable for any suffering caused. They should have processes and procedures in place to prevent mistakes. For instance, before a prescription is given to Mr Smith, his postcode should be confirmed to ensure he’s the correct patient. Also, the pharmacist should check and verify what medicines a technician has picked and packaged before they’re provided to the patient.
Effects Of Being Dispensed The Wrong Medication
We’ve talked a lot about the potential for suffering to be caused when given the wrong medication. But what sort of suffering are we talking about? Here are some examples:
- Allergic reactions.
If you’re given the wrong medication, it could contain something you’re allergic to. Even though the pharmacist or doctor may have been aware of your allergy, the mistake could mean you suffer a reaction. In the most serious cases, this can be life-threatening. Usually, this will be the case if the reaction causes an anaphylactic shock.
- Conflicts with other medication.
When a doctor prescribes your medicine, they’ll check that it doesn’t conflict with anything else you’ve been prescribed. However, if the wrong medicine is dispensed, you could suffer adverse side effects.
- Side effects.
Even if the medication you’re given in error doesn’t cause serious problems, it can still lead to unwanted side effects. These include vomiting, nausea, fatigue and diarrhoea.
Importantly, whatever symptoms the wrong medication causes you, there’s another thing to consider. The fact that you’ve not been given the prescribed drugs could mean your underlying condition doesn’t improve. Therefore, even if you don’t suffer a reaction to the medicine you receive, you could still claim for the additional suffering caused because your illness wasn’t treated properly.
In the next section, we’ll look at what to do if you’ve been given the wrong medication. If you can show that the pharmacist has made a mistake, you could be eligible to claim. Please call an advisor to discuss your options.
What To Do When A Pharmacy Dispenses The Wrong Medication
If you suspect or know you’ve been given the wrong medication. There are several things you could do. Some of these steps could provide evidence to support your claim. Therefore, if you’ve suffered as a result of a pharmacy error, you could:
- Contact your GP to check exactly which drug they prescribed, the dosage and how often you should take it.
- Keep hold of any packaging provided by the pharmacist.
- If you still have some available, keep hold of a sample of the medication. This could be tested to confirm what medicine you received.
- Visit A&E if you suffer any adverse reactions to the drug. Otherwise, consult with your GP about your concerns.
- Ask for a copy of your medical records from your GP. These could be used as evidence to support your claim. They will show your initial illness, what medicine was prescribed, and how you suffered following the mistake.
Proving any form of medical negligence for wrong medication claims can be tricky. That’s why we’d advise having a specialist solicitor on your side. Our panel of solicitors have the skills and knowledge to know how to prove the exact nature of your suffering. This is important because any wrong prescription compensation is based on the severity of your injuries or illness and the effects it has had on you.
Time limits To Make A Wrong Medication Claim Against A Pharmacy
When making any form of compensation claim, you’ll need to consider the personal injury claims time limit. To see how long you have, please check the table below:
|Type of Claim||Time Limit||Notes|
|Personal injury claim (adult)||3-years||Starts from the date of the accident or medical negligence that caused your suffering. See below for more information.|
|Personal injury claim (child)||Any time before their 18th birthday||A parent can make a claim on behalf of their child. If this doesn't happen before they turn 18, then they will have 3-years to claim as an adult.|
As you can see, in general circumstances, you’ll have 3-years to claim. This period usually begins from the date you were caused to suffer. However, if you weren’t aware that the wrong medication was the cause of your suffering, then the time period could start from the date you found out about the negligence.
In either case, you should start your claim as early as possible. That’s because the work a solicitor needs to complete takes time. If they are contacted too close to the time limit, there might not be enough time to complete all of the required tasks to prepare a claim properly.
What Could I Claim If Dispensed The Wrong Medication By A Pharmacy?
Any settlement for the wrong prescription in the UK will be made up of several elements. These are known as ‘Heads of loss’. Your solicitor will use different losses depending on how you have been affected. Here are some of the head of losses that could be used:
- General Damages.
This compensation is awarded to cover the pain, loss of amenity and suffering caused by any illness.
- Medical Expenses.
Although any remedial treatment is usually provided free by the NHS, you might still incur expenses. This could be for prescriptions, over the counter medicines or other treatments. Therefore, you could include these costs within your claim.
- Care Costs.
If you need to be supported while you’re recovering, you could claim any costs linked to a carer. This could be the time of a friend or loved one who looks after you. Also, you might be able to claim back the cost of hiring a professional carer.
- Travelling Expenses.
When you have to travel to medical appointments, you could claim back the cost of fuel and parking at a GP surgery or hospital. Also, if your injuries leave you unable to drive while you’re recovering, the cost of any alternative travel arrangements could be claimed back.
- Lost Earnings.
Finally, if you lose any income resulting from your suffering, you could claim this back. For instance, if you have to take unpaid time off work to recover or attend medical appointments, this could be claimed back. In some instances, where your ability to work is affected for the long-term, you could also ask for future lost income.
No Win No Fee Wrong Medication Negligence Claims Against Pharmacies
When new clients contact us, the first question they usually ask is, “Can you sue a pharmacy for giving the wrong medication?”. The next is, “How much will it cost me to do so?”.
It’s quite common for claimants to worry about the cost of hiring legal representation. That’s the reason our panel of solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis for any claim they handle. Offering this type of service means more people can claim. That’s because a lot of the financial risk is taken away, and stress associated with the claim is lowered too.
When your claim has been assessed, if the solicitor agrees it’s strong enough, they’ll prepare a conditional fee agreement (CFA) for you. This document acts as your legal contract. Within the CFA, there are two key pieces of information:
- A statement explains that you don’t have to pay the solicitor’s fees if they lose the case.
- The level of success fee you’ll pay if the case is won. This is expressed as a percentage of your compensation.
The success fee is used to cover the solicitor’s fees. Typically, the figure will be around 25% of your compensation. Rather than paying this amount yourself, the solicitor deducts it from the compensation before receiving the rest.
How To Make A Pharmacy Negligence Claim
If you now believe that you have a strong enough case to claim because you were given the wrong medication, we really hope that you’d like to do so using Medical Negligence Assist. Here are some reasons why we think you should choose us to help you:
- Our friendly advisors provide free advice and guidance about your claim. They’ll also assess your claim for free.
- You can make a claim whenever it’s convenient. Our claims line is open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
- We’ve received really positive feedback from previous clients.
- Our panel of solicitors always try to ensure a claim doesn’t drag on. They do this by working as efficiently as possible.
- To reduce the stress during your wrong medication claims, your solicitor will provide regular updates.
- The panel of solicitors we use will always work on a No Win No Fee basis. They also always try to ensure you receive the correct level of compensation for your suffering.
Start A Negligence Claim
Thanks for reading this guide about claiming for a pharmacy error that has caused you to suffer. If you’re ready to begin your wrong prescription claim today, then please get in touch with our advisors straight away. Here are the best methods of doing so:
- You can call our specialists on 0800 652 3087 for free claims advice.
- If you prefer, you can connect with our team using live chat.
- Or you could ask us to call you back when it’s convenient by using this claims form.
Whichever method you use to get in touch, we’ll use the same process to handle your claim. We’ll start by assessing your claim and reviewing any supporting evidence. Then we’ll provide free legal advice about your options. Finally, if the claim has strong grounds, we could introduce you to one of our panel of personal injury solicitors. Should they agree to take on your claim, it’ll be on a No Win No Fee basis.
In the final section of our guide about claiming for suffering caused by the wrong medication, we’re going to provide you with some links, guides and resources that we hope you’ll find useful.
Pharmacy Professional Standards – Information on the role of pharmacists from the General Pharmaceutical Council.
Reducing Medication-Related Harm – A report from a government working group on reducing medication errors.
Pharmacy Information – Information from the NHS regarding what pharmaceutical services they offer.
Medical Negligence Claims – A guide that explains when you could use a personal injury lawyer to claim for injuries caused by the negligence of a medical professional.
GP Claims – This guide looks at personal injury claims against GPs.
Misdiagnosis Claims – A guide that explains when you could claim for misdiagnosis that makes a condition worse or causes extra suffering.
Wrong Medication Claims FAQs
What is medication negligence?
This is where a medical professional demonstrates negligence, either intentionally or accidentally. But medication negligence has the potential to cause serious health problems for the patient.
What are the consequences of incorrect medications?
These could range from rashes, itching and scarring to permanent organ damage and possibly even death.
Can you sue for receiving the wrong medication?
Yes, so long as you have sufficient evidence to support that your suffering is due to complications involving medicine prescription.
What are the top five medical errors?
These are medication errors, anaesthesia errors, catching infections at hospitals, missing or delaying a diagnosis and an avoidable treatment delay.
What happens if a pharmacist makes a dispensing error?
This could see the patient having the opportunity to file a compensation claim against the pharmacist in question.
Is it normal for new nurses to make mistakes?
It’s not uncommon for this to happen, though new nurses tend to receive additional training before handling medication.
What are the three common causes of medication errors?
These are incorrect prescriptions, omitting particular drugs and prescribing medication in improper dosages.
What leads to medication errors?
The most common cause is a lack of communication between the patient and their doctor.
Thank you for reading our wrong medication claims guide. We hope you now have greater knowledge about making a wrong prescription claim.