Drug interactions due to physician, pharmacist negligence injure thousands of patients each year

by Eric Pearson

Health experts say that thousands of patients each year are sickened by drug interactions that occur due to medical errors or negligence. In many cases, experts say that these errors involve drug interactions that have been known about for years, but which occur due to the failure of doctors or medical staff to properly monitor the potential for interactions between two medications prescribed to their patients.

Many cases of drug interactions involve serious health consequences caused by the interaction of two medications. In other instances, prescribing two drugs in combination can cause one of the medications to become ineffective, leaving patients vulnerable to the ill effects that can result from the failure to properly treat their condition.

Numerous studies have shown that drug prescribers are often unaware of the potential for interactions between two medications or defer to the expertise of pharmacists about these concerns. Pharmacists, in turn, defer to the discretion of doctors to prescribe whatever drugs they feel are necessary to treat a patient. Even though the prevention of serious and potentially deadly drug interactions is a vital job for pharmacists, when patients who have been injured by the combined effects of two medications sue, many pharmacists take the position that they have no legal duty to prevent drug interactions.

Although hospitals and pharmacies use computer software to warn about the possibility of drug interactions, because these systems trigger a high volume of warnings about potential interactions—including many that pose little health risk—they are often ignored by pharmacists when filling a prescription.

Research has also shown that most doctors are largely unable to recognize the potential risks of a drug interaction when prescribing medication to their patients. A 2008 study of nearly 1,000 physicians found that less than 25% were able to identify medications that could cause serious side effects if taken in combination.

Because of time constraints during their medical training, very few doctors receive adequate training on the most common forms of drug interactions, experts say. Since state medical licensing boards and hospital credentialing bodies do not require doctors to demonstrate knowledge of hazardous drug interactions during the certification process, doctors are never held accountable for this poor training in the combined hazardous effects of commonly prescribed medications.

With new drugs hitting the market every day, health regulators and doctors have a hard time staying abreast of new and potentially harmful drug interactions that could affect patients. And because there is no master list of medications that a patient is taking which automatically follows them from doctor to doctor, new physicians are reliant on self-reporting by patients to determine if the medications they prescribe may interact with drugs the patient is already taking.

Even though thousands of patients are injured each year as a result of drug interactions, the FDA does not require doctors or pharmacists to report these cases to federal authorities. This makes it even harder for the agency to track the frequency of injuries caused by drug interactions and to prevent such cases from happening in the future. As a result, doctors and pharmacists rarely face sanctions for unsafe prescribing practices unless patients take legal action by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Pharmaceutical Liability Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

When doctors and pharmacists fail to follow proper medical procedures in prescribing medications to their patients, serious and potentially deadly health consequences can result. Thousands of patients are injured each year as a result of drug interactions in which the negligence of physicians, medical personnel, or pharmacy staff played a role.

If you or a loved one has been injured by the combined effects of two or more prescription medications, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the doctor who prescribed the drugs or the pharmacists who filled the prescription in order to seek compensation for your injuries. The first step in filing a lawsuit against a doctor, pharmacist, or hospital is to speak with a law firm that has the experience in personal injury and medical malpractice litigation to handle your case from start to finish.

The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has filed numerous product liability lawsuits on behalf of patients who were injured by defective drugs or other medical products. Our firm believes that when the actions of pharmaceutical companies and medical devices manufacturers jeopardize the safety or health of patients, they should be held accountable for their actions in a court of law.

Our attorneys have the experience, expertise, and resources to take on any pharmaceutical liability case. Our law firm has tried hundreds of cases to verdict and has achieved settlements in hundreds more. In just the last few years, our lawyers have collected more than $200 million on behalf of our clients in cases relating to defective pharmaceutical products. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has pursued claims involving injuries linked to a variety of pharmaceutical products, including the fentanyl pain patch, Yasmin, Actos, Avandia, Pradaxa and Xarelto, Zofran, and other drugs. We have also filed lawsuits on behalf of patients who were injured by medical devices such as hip or knee replacements and transvaginal mesh products used in surgical repair of damaged tissue.

For more information about filing a lawsuit and to find out whether you may qualify to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us 24 hours a day by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions to get started.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.