Pharmacist Liability

The Fourth District Court of Appeals in Florida has ruled that a pharmacist may be held liable for failure to follow the standard of care for pharmacists even though the pharmacist dispensed drugs pursuant to a doctor’s order.

The plaintiff alleged that the pharmacist should have intervened to stop the numerous overlapping presriptions for narcotics and other medications prescribed for plaintiff’s wife. Plaintiff’s wife died of a drug overdose.

The trial judge dismissed the case, saying that the pharmacist had no duty. The court of appeals reversed, holding that despite competing authority in Florida the complaint stated a cause of action. Read the opinion here.

The opinion cites with approval the case of Dooley v. Everett, 805 S.W.32d 380 (Tenn. App. 1990), a ground-breaking case in the area of pharmacist liability in which I represented Brandon Dooley and his parents. We argued that there was a genuine issue of material fact on the issue of whether a pharmacist had the duty to warn about a drug-drug interaction when the pharmacist filled the two prescriptions that interacted. We argued that the pharmacist is the safety valve between the negligent prescribing physician and the innocent patient, in our case a wonderful seven year old boy who was brain-damaged by the drug-drug interaction.

I have tremendous respect for pharmacists. They are true professionals. They do not just fill, lick and stick. And, when they do not follow the standard of care they need to be held responsible for any foreseeable harm that results.

The opinion notes that it reaches a different result than two other appellate courts in Florida. Undoubtedly, the Florida Supreme Court will take this case. I will try to keep up with it and let you know what happens.