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4 Examples of Pharmaceutical Malpractice

Organizations like the DEA or The California State Board of Pharmacy can classify an occurrence as pharmaceutical malpractice when a pharmaceutical error or negligence leads to critical injury, hospitalization, or death. As a pharmacy owner or pharmacist, it is crucial to understand what can cause pharmaceutical malpractice in order to avoid harming your patients and facing adverse action against your facility or license. Let’s review several categories of pharmaceutical malpractice in an effort to avoid litigation against you.

1. Giving Wrong Medication to Your Patient

When a pharmacist fills a prescription with the wrong medication and the patient begins taking it, serious or deadly side effects can occur. With the high volume of prescriptions filled daily, it’s crucial to avoid this major error.

Prescription with a similar but different name

One instance of giving the wrong medication includes giving a patient a drug with a similar but different name. For example, Taxol and Taxotere are two drugs with similar names that could be mistaken for each other. Use systems like storing them separately, double-checking, or using TALLman letters to clearly distinguish the two names.

Mixing up prescriptions

A pharmacist could also give a patient someone else’s medication. Two patients could have similar names, so double check the name and have the patient verify that their name is actually written on the bottle.

Misreading a doctor’s prescription

Sometimes doctor’s prescriptions are hard to read, potentially causing a mixup in filling the medication. As in the previous example, double-checking the handwriting or confirming with the doctor is a good safety measure to avoid this mistake.

2. Providing incorrect or insufficient instructions and labeling

Woman reading medication instructions

Beyond the basic guidelines, pharmacies are required to print correct instructions on the labels of the medication. The directions must correctly and sufficiently inform patients on how much of a drug to take, including whether a drug can be taken with food, water, or alcohol, or while pregnant. A pharmacist should verbally guide the patient through the medication when they pick it up and get confirmation that the patient understands how to take it, including what to do if they miss a dose. If a pharmacy or pharmacist places incorrect directions on a label or fails to provide any instructions, they can face serious consequences.

3. Giving the Incorrect Dosage

In cases when a pharmacist fills the prescription with the correct medication but the wrong dosage, serious effects can occur. Patients could end up not taking enough of a medication for their condition, or take too much, resulting in an overdose. Both cases could trigger pharmacy malpractice. It’s imperative to double-check dosage instructions and make sure that the dosage makes sense, even after printing them on the label.

4. Not Reviewing the Drug with the Patient

Pharmacist choosing medication from a shelf

A pharmacist’s duty is to make sure that patients are given the correct drugs, dosages, and instructions. Equally as important, they should check prescriptions for potentially dangerous drug-drug interactions. The pharmacist should also investigate any allergies the patient has revealed to avoid harmful interactions. Failing to warn patients of drug-drug interactions can result in serious consequences.


A pharmacy malpractice lawsuit can be very stressful and difficult to defend. Simple mistakes can cost your pharmacy a lot of money and time and wrap you up in a legal battle. Learn more about pharmacy malpractice to know what to look out for and how to avoid it. If you are facing a pharmacy malpractice lawsuit, contact us today for experienced representation and defense.