By Megan Webster. Last Updated 13th January 2023. A prescription error in a pharmacy can cause tremendous distress for the patients affected. In addition to not helping with the original problem, mistakes with medication can cause new health concerns. In some cases, the consequences can be life-threatening.
What happens if a pharmacist makes a mistake in the UK? Did pharmacy staff give you the wrong tablets or mix up paperwork resulting in significant issues? Our article explains the steps you could take if you choose to work with a medical negligence solicitor to seek damages after a prescription mistake.
At Public Interest Lawyers we can assist you. Our expert advisors can assess your case and answer any of your questions. If you have a valid claim they can appoint a medical negligence specialist to take on your case. All cases taken on by solicitors on our panel will be pursued using a No Win No Fee service.
- Call us on 0800 408 7825
- Or try emailing Public Interest Lawyers
- We also have a ‘live support’ option where you can access immediate free legal advice about a claim for compensation after a prescription error in a pharmacy. Please read on to learn more.
Select A Section
- What Is A Prescription Error In A Pharmacy?
- Common Examples Of A Prescription Error In A Pharmacy
- What Are The Effects Of A Medication Error?
- Wrong Prescription – Evidence To Support Your Claim
- Calculating Compensation For A Prescription Error In A Pharmacy
- Talk To Our Advisors About A No Win No Fee Pharmacy Negligence Claim
A prescription error in a pharmacy can lead to serious problems for the patient. As well as meaning that the wrong medication could be given to them, it could also mean that they are prescribed too much or too little of the medicine they need. This has the potential to worsen their condition. Or even create new health problems. With this in mind, pharmacists must be well trained and vigilant at all times to their duties.
A medication error is defined as a Patient Safety Incident if there has been a mistake in the prescribing, dispensing, administrating, monitoring or providing information on medication. The National Reporting and Learning Systems (NRLS) states a ‘Patient Safety Incident’ (PSI) includes an unexpected or unintended type of incident that could have (or did) harm a patient receiving NHS care.
At what stages could prescription errors and mistakes occur:
- Or providing of advice on medicines.
The Medicines Act 1968 is just one piece of legislation that pharmacists need to be aware of. To further help to protect patients, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) operates a Yellow Card Scheme to help identify unrecognised adverse drug reactions that may impact patients.
What duty of care do Pharmacists have?
Pharmacists are classed as medical professionals. So if they fail to adhere to professional standards, this can be considered medical negligence. The National Health Service (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013 describes the duty of care that pharmacists must adhere to when providing services.
In addition to this, any person calling themselves a pharmacist must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council ( GPhC) which regulates pharmacists and technicians.
They work to assure and improve standards of care for anyone who uses pharmacy services. As well as setting standards, the GPhC requires registration for all pharmacists and can investigate issues that are reported to them.
In the daily activity of a busy pharmacy, it’s essential that staff pay close attention to their tasks. However, human error may always be a possibility and examples of potential mistakes could include:
- Mixing the completely wrong medication or dosage
- Mixing up prescriptions
- Allocating incomplete or excessive dosages
- Mis-labelling bottles or packets
- Storing medications at the wrong temperature
- Providing the wrong format of drugs (i.e.pills rather than liquids)
- Recommending medication that conflicts with other medicines the patient is taking
- Using an unauthorised drug or brand version of the correct one
- Not giving clear guidance to patients on how they should take the medicine or drug prescribed
Whether it is human error or a systemic problem at the pharmacy, medication mistakes can cause a wide range of issues for patients. Health issues can range from no discernable or serious side effects to potentially life-threatening problems. Patients might experience any of the following physical problems from a prescription error:
- Skin rashes or itching
- Visual disturbances or hearing changes
- Lack of balance
- Nausea or vomiting
- Diarrohea or stomach cramps
- Drowsiness or insomnia
- Muscle pain or spasms
- Depression, anxiety, or other mood problems
- More concerning problems such as severe reaction, organ failure, and death
It’s important to note that these health issues can be temporary or permanent. The disruption they can cause in a patient’s life could lead to months or even years of health and financial concerns. As someone impacted by a prescription error in a pharmacy, we can help you formalise a request for compensation. Contact us on the number above for more advice.
Previously in this guide, we provided some examples of what happens if a pharmacy technician makes a mistake. As stated, if you were given the wrong prescription, you could suffer from various consequences and symptoms, such as rashes or vomiting.
To make a medical negligence claim, you will need to prove that you suffered harm due to a medical practitioner breaching their duty of care. This is why evidence is crucial for proving medical negligence occurred for claims for prescription errors in the UK. Some of the evidence that you could collect to help support your claim could include:
- Correspondence with the pharmacy where the medical negligence took place.
- A copy of your prescription to help prove that you were given the incorrect prescription.
- Photographs of any visible symptoms you suffered.
- A copy of your medical records stating your symptoms if you had a medical appointment following a prescription error.
Additionally, you may also want to seek legal advice on what steps you could take next in your claim.
Contact one of our advisors today to see whether you could make a claim for a medical professional prescribing you the wrong medication.
There are time limits to be aware of. Under the Limitation Act 1980, there is a three-year time frame to start a claim. This can begin from the moment you first become ill or the date that you become aware of health injury caused by medical negligence (data of knowledge). Speak with our team if you need help clarifying this.
The chart below has amount brackets taken from a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines. The purpose is to calculate general damages that acknowledge the pain, suffering and impact of ill health on your quality of life in a way that is fair and consistent. The table illustrates:
|Type of Injury
|Awards of this level would be made for complete loss or damage to both kidneys.
|£169,400 to £210,400
|Despite one kidney being lost, the other suffers no harm.
|£30,770 to £44,880
|Complete loss of function, with associated loss of bowel function and other medical problems.
|Up to £184,200
|An almost complete recovery has been made, but the person will still suffer with some long-term problems with the bladder’s natural function
|£23,410 to £31,310
|Depending on the person’s age, they may require a colostomy following the complete loss of the bowel’s natural function.
|Up to £150,110
|(a) Total Deafness and Loss of Speech
|A rubella infection that causes deafness at an early age. This will also impact the normal development of speech.
|£109,650 to £140,660
|Incidents of severe toxicosis. This causes serious pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever, with hospital admission.
|£38,430 to £52,500
|For a few days or weeks the person will suffer with varying degrees of pain, diarrhoea and cramps.
|£910 to £3,950
|Breathing difficulties caused by chronic asthma with the person needing to use an inhaler frequently.
|£26,290 to £43,010
|Loss of spleen that causes damage to the immune system and presents a continuing risk of internal infections.
|£20,800 to £26,290
To calculate a full request for compensation, another head of damages applies. Special damages take proof from documents like receipts, bills, and bank statements that demonstrate the financial costs the illness has created. This could include:
- Loss of earnings
- Missed future income
- The need for adaptations to your car or home
- Medical procedures unavailable on the NHS (physiotherapy or counselling)
- Impact on pension contributions or attendance allowances
- Child care help
- Domestic help with cooking, cleaning, and personal care
Special damages aim to stop you from suffering financially as well as physically. After a prescription error in a pharmacy, it can be possible to suffer a whole series of associated problems and special damages aim to help patients seek all these amounts back as part of their damages.
Should you decide to seek legal representation to make a claim against a pharmacy for a prescription error, we can connect you with skilled medical negligence solicitors to help. All the solicitors on our panel work under No Win No Fee agreements to do this.
No Win No Fee agreements (or Conditional Fee Agreements) mean that a skilled medical negligence solicitor could take up your case at no charge right now. Agreements such as this mean that there is no fee to pay the solicitors unless your case wins, after which a maximum of 25% is due as their payment.
If the case does not go in your favour, there are no monies to pay the No Win No Fee lawyer.
Medication errors in a community pharmacy could leave you with an array of unnecessary and distressing issues. Get in touch today and learn more about how a medical negligence solicitor could help your claim for a prescription error in a pharmacy. Contact us by:
- Calling on 0800 408 7825
- Emailing us at Public Interest Lawyers
- We also have a ‘live support’ option where you can access immediate free advice about a claim for compensation after a prescription error in a pharmacy. Please read on to learn more.
Clinical and Medical Negligence Claim Resources
Thank you for reading this guide on claiming after a prescription error in a pharmacy. Below are further resources to help:
- More information about how to claim if you were prescribed the wrong medication
- Further reading on the time limit for a medical negligence claim
- FAQ’s about needing to use a medical negligence solicitor near you
- Reporting a concern about a pharmacy with the Care Quality Commission
- Details on pre-action protocols for medical negligence cases
- Information on the costs of clinical negligence on the NHS
Article by EA