When you walk into your local pharmacy to pick up a prescription, you expect the doctor to communicate with the pharmacist and everything is clear and accurate. The truth is that pharmacy errors occur much more frequently than you’d like to think. Patients can get severely ill or die as a result of negligence, overwork, or just ignorance behind the medicine counter.

Below, our West Palm Beach medication error attorney has put together 5 of the most shocking cases of pharmacy errors and what rights you have if you are the victim of a medical professional’s mistake.

pharmacy errors

Case #1: Drug mixup results in elderly woman’s death

In New York in 2018, 85-year-old Mary Scheuerman collected her prescription from her local Publix pharmacy and began taking what she thought was the antidepressant her doctor had prescribed. Instead, she was given a powerful chemotherapy drug. Since these medications are nearly as harmful to the body as the cancer they fight, Mary ended up in a Florida hospital.

The mistake wasn’t discovered until she was dying at the hospital in December. She passed away two weeks later.

Case #2: Young woman’s skin melts off

Imagine asking for help with your depression and developing a debilitating condition that causes you to burn from the inside out. That’s what happened to Khaliah Shaw in 2014 when the pharmacy dispensed the wrong dosage of lamotrigine.

Her skin essentially melted off her body from the inside out, requiring doctors to put her in a medically induced coma while they tried to repair the damage. Although doctors were able to save her life, Shaw suffered extensive scarring and loss of vision for which her attorney secured a $1 million settlement.

Case #3: Attempted cover-up: Iowa pharmacy destroys their records

In September 2020, an Iowa Walgreens pharmacy dispensed insulin pens that weren’t the prescribed strength along with incorrect test strips. The patient discovered the error, but by the time the matter was investigated, the pharmacy had destroyed their records of the transaction. This was a clear violation of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy’s regulations.

Case #4: Wrong medication sends patient to the ER

A CVS store near Cleveland, OH, dispensed a medication to treat a patient’s Parkinson’s disease and restless leg syndrome. However, the medication was actually digoxin, which is used to treat heart failure. After taking the wrong medicine, the patient suffered anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and profuse sweating. It took weeks for the error to be identified and traced back to the CVS pharmacy.

The patient continued to experience symptoms long after they had discontinued the wrong medication and received the correct one.

Case #5: They gave her Adderall instead of painkillers

At another CVS location, 51-year-old Gradine Hector-Faison picked up what she thought was oxycodone to manage pain after suffering a sprained ankle. Not only did the pain not stop, but Hector-Faison felt wide awake and anxious, fully aware of the pain in her ankle.

It turned out that a pharmacy error had caused her to receive Adderall instead of the pain medicine she had been prescribed.

After calling both the CVS store and the corporate office, she was given excuses but no justifications for such an alarming difference in the medicine she received.

Do you know what goes on behind the counter?

According to the study “Medical Error Reduction and Prevention,” over 100,000 people die in the United States every year due to adverse reactions from medication errors in pharmacy practice.

Pharmacy errors in Florida are increasing as pharmacists are overworked for longer hours with fewer trained technicians to assist. With the rush to handle more prescriptions for more patients, pharmacists are finding they have, on average, only two minutes to spend concentrating on each prescription.

Pharmacy medication errors can be the product of:

  • Under-trained staff
  • Careless mistakes when entering prescription information
  • Substituting drugs when your insurance doesn’t cover what your doctor prescribed
  • Deciphering illegible doctor handwriting

Regardless of what happens, you can suffer debilitating illness when you get the wrong medicine, the wrong dosage, or the wrong instructions.

What should I do after experiencing a pharmacy error?

In all these shocking cases, the cause comes down to negligence in one form or another. While it’s understandable that an exhausted pharmacist may make a mistake, they are legally held responsible for their actions. Understaffing and production demands are corporate decisions that can lead to pharmacists inadvertently causing life-changing harm, including death.

At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, you can speak with an experienced West Palm Beach medication error attorney to understand what to do when you are the victim of a pharmacy error. We manage cases involving wrong dosages, wrong medications, and labeling errors from your pharmacy. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to pursue compensation such as medical expenses, lost income, and emotional distress from multiple at-fault parties.

We are dedicated to serving the people of Florida when they are victims of careless acts by medical professionals. With offices in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, and Port St. Lucie, we are close by to meet with you for a free consultation so you can learn more. Contact us by calling (561) 655-1990 or using our online form to request a case evaluation today.

Related articles for further reading