Negligence law encompasses a wide range of activities from car accidents to slip and fall cases. The four elements of negligence include: duty, breach, causation and damages. In some cases, the pertinent question is whether the defendant even owed plaintiff a duty. This is exactly the question the court addressed in the case of Oleckna v. Daytona Discount Pharmacy in regards to the duty of care a pharmacy owes its customers.
The facts of the case are as follows: A man was being treated for “stress syndrome” characterized by excessive anxiety and pain. He was being treated with prescriptions for various drugs, including Alprazolam and Acetaminophen combined with either Oxycodone or Hydrocodone. The treating physician kept prescribing these drugs over a two year time span. However, new prescriptions were given to the man before the old supply of drugs ran out. In other words, the man was consuming the drugs faster than he should have been. The pharmacy allegedly filled thirty or more prescriptions written days before the previous prescription should have been finished. The man ultimately died from an overdose of prescribed medication.
The man’s estate sued the pharmacy, claiming that the prescriptions were issued too closely in time and should only have been issued when the preceding ones had been exhausted. Put another way, the man’s estate alleged that the pharmacy was negligence because it continued to fill prescriptions so closely in time that the patient could suffer an overdose.
The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice, ruling that the pharmacy did not owe the man a duty other than to fill the prescriptions accurately.
The appellate court reversed the lower court’s ruling. The court reasoned that the pharmacy owed a duty to the man beyond simply filling the doctor’s prescription accurately. Pharmacies owe customers a duty of reasonable care. Reasonable care is defined as the level of care a sensible or prudent pharmacist would use in the same or similar circumstances. Here, the prescriptions in question were written in a quantity, frequency, dosage or combination that a reasonable pharmacist would have been put on alert to either check with the prescribing physician or warn the patient of the potential dangers. The court explained that pharmacists have a responsibility to their customers that goes beyond “robotic compliance” with the instructions of a prescribing doctor.
This decision broadens the scope of negligence law and encourages healthcare professionals to be vigilant in their actions.
If you have been injured in Florida, it is important to seek the help and guidance of a qualified personal injury attorney. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, we have helped countless clients resolve their injury claims and we can help you as well. We understand the nuances of this area of the law. We will work diligently to collect the facts in your situation and give you a realistic legal assessment of your case. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Negligent Supervision of Children in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, March 19, 2015
Documents Prepared in Anticipation of Litigation Not Discoverable in Florida Premises Liability Case, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, March 9, 2015
Chain Reaction Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, March 9, 2015