Pharmacy dispenses incorrect medication to unwitting patient

Tuesday 27th August 2019

The Medical Negligence Team at Waldrons Solicitors have recovered £6,000 for a patient who was incorrectly given anti-depressant medication by her local pharmacy, despite the prescription being for medication to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

At the time of the incident the patient, Mrs A, had been taking Loperamide for over 15 years to treat her Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). On the advice of her GP, she would take 8-10 tablets per day and would increase the dosage if her symptoms got worse.

In January 2018, Mrs A was prescribed four boxes of Loperamide by her GP. Her husband collected the medication from their local pharmacy. On collecting the tablets, there was nothing obviously wrong – the box was labelled as containing Loperamide.

Mrs A took the medication for a few days, taking the same number of tablets she would usually take. She started experiencing heart palpitations, dizziness, blurred vision and nausea, and also developed a rash. Mrs A checked the box of tablets and noticed that the blister pack inside the box referred to Fluoxetine and not Loperamide; Fluoxetine is used to treat depression at a maximum dose of 60mg per day. Mrs A had unknowingly been taking 200mg of anti-depressant medication and, even more disturbingly, at more than 3 times the maximum amount recommended for a patient in need of Fluoxetine. Worried after realising the incorrect medication had been provided to her, Mrs A went to her local A&E department where she underwent tests and observations. No long term problems were expected although her symptoms carried on for several weeks.

Mrs A contacted Waldrons’ Medical Negligence team for advice and, in February 2018, her case was taken on by Joseph Norton, who is the Head of Compensation at Waldrons and an Associate Director of the Firm. The first step involved obtaining and conducting a detailed review of Mrs A’s medical records. The records clearly demonstrated that the pharmacy had no basis for dispensing anti-depressant medication to Mrs A.

Mrs A’s circumstances were set out in a Letter of Notification to the pharmacy which included details of what had gone wrong and the effect this had on Mrs A. In their response, the pharmacist’s insurers admitted that Fluoxetine tablets were dispended in error. After a period of negotiation between Waldrons and the pharmacy’s insurers, an offer of £6,000 was made which Mrs A accepted in April 2019.

Following settlement of the case, Mrs A said of the work undertaken by Waldrons on her behalf: ‘I want to thank Joseph for his hard work, understanding of my situation and diligence. His advice was much appreciated and a successful outcome was achieved.’

Commenting on the successful claim, Joseph, who is on the Executive Committee of the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers (SCIL), said: ‘I was happy to help Mrs A recover compensation for what she had been through. Claims involving medication errors are usually straightforward, although they can have quite a significant impact on those involved. I welcome the approach taken by the pharmacy in settling this matter relatively early on in the process, and hope that they are able to learn from this case to help prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future.’

If you think that you have been prescribed the wrong medication, and have been injured as a result, please click here to speak to one of our specialist Medical Negligence lawyers.