Pharmacy Malpractice Claims Are Often Shrouded in Secrecy
Imagine a scenario in which a woman who was planning on expanding her family wanted to ensure the health of her future unborn child. Once she conceived her physician provided her a prescription for Materna, a prenatal vitamin customarily prescribed to pregnant women. Armed with the prescription she visited her trusted local pharmacy chain where the pharmacist mistakenly filled the prescription with Matulane, a chemotherapy drug that substantially affects cell growth.
This example is not a hypothetical one; it actually happened. The woman experienced waves of nausea and symptoms of vomiting, neurologic damage, dizziness, chills and shortness of breath. Unsure of what was happening, she visited her physician. The doctor discovered thatthe fetus was not developing normally, and the woman eventually miscarried.
Once the pharmaceutical error was uncovered, the woman and her husband filed a federal lawsuit seeking actual and punitive damages in excess of $75,000 against the pharmacy. Her legal counsel asserted that the national chain had failed to supervise pharmacy personnel since they did not question or verify the prescription with the woman’s physician. The pharmacy malpractice suit was settled outside of court within a few weeks of being filed. A confidentiality agreement prohibits any involved parties from speaking about the case.Looking Deeper
USA TODAY, however, decided to investigate further. In reviewing these type of malpractice suits, they uncovered that two of the largest national pharmaceutical chains often settled outside of court—settlements frequently protected by confidentiality agreements. The consensus following this investigation suggests that settlements buy silence. With the trend continuing, it creates a catch-22 for legal counsel. The attorneys involved in filing such suits must balance the public’s need to know with the primary obligation of serving their clients.Why so Secretive?
It is believed that the pharmacy chains insist on confidential settlements for two primary reasons. First, they hope to avoid the bad publicity that would be associated with the lawsuit. Secondly, the pharmacies also to prevent compromising the trust of their customers.
Two of the largest pharmacy chains challenged these ideas. They responded that settling outside of the court and the use of confidentiality agreements is common practice for all commercial transactions and litigation. Therefore, this type settlement action should not be seen as secretive or unusual when dealing with a liability claim.
Reformers disagree and are lobbying for all pharmaceutical errors to be publicly reported by individual state pharmaceutical boards. To date, North Carolina is the only state that publishes pharmaceutical errors that have resulted in death or serious injury.
As for the woman and her family it remains uncertain if taking the chemotherapy drug will produce any long-term health problems. It does seem certain, however, that the drug contributed to the death of what would have been her second child.We Can Help
If you have recently experienced a pharmaceutical error resulting in short- or long-term damage and would like to explore your legal options, the skilled San Jose pharmacy malpractice attorneys of Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. can help. Our legal team has extensive experience in this area and will work diligently toward an equitable resolution while treating you with the respect and compassion you deserve. Contact our offices at (408) 289-1417 to schedule your free initial consultation today.Sources