By Jo Martinez. Last Updated 16th June 2023. When visiting a pharmacy to pick up a prescription, we should be able to put our trust in the pharmacy to give us the correct medication. But what happens if the pharmacy dispenses the wrong medication, which causes detrimental effects to our health? A pharmacist has a duty of care towards those using their services, and if pharmacists are negligent and dispense the wrong medication, it could lead to a patient suffering avoidable harm. If this is the case, and a failure in the pharmacist’s duty of care causes such harm, then the patient could be eligible for compensation. This guide focuses on what to do if a pharmacy gives wrong medication in the UK, and how you could go about launching a claim for compensation if this has happened to you. If you require further support after reading this guide or would like to begin a claim, simply call Legal Helpline on 0161 696 9685. However, we would also advise you to read on to find out more about this type of pharmacy error and how it could affect you.
Select A Section
- What Duty Of Care Can You Expect From A Pharmacist?
- What Are The Different Types Of Wrong Medication Error?
- What Could Happen If You Are Given The Wrong Medication?
- Wrong Medication Given By Pharmacy – Evidence You’ll Need To Claim
- Wrong Medication Given By Pharmacy – Examples Of Compensation Payouts
- Special Damages To Reimburse For Financial Costs And Losses
- No Win No Fee Claims For A Pharmacy Giving The Wrong Medication
- Supporting Information
A pharmacist is duty-bound to provide a safe and effective standard of care and they must meet the minimum standards of care outlined in the Pharmacy Regulations. There is a further explanation of these standards in the section below. Your pharmacist would be responsible for:
- Making sure that the medicines they supply are supplied according to the law.
- Making sure that medicines they dispense are suitable.
- Giving advice to patients on how and when to take their medication, as well as answering. questions on potential reactions, and any other questions about their medication.
- Making sure the medicines they supply are of suitable quality.
In addition to this, pharmacists also must ensure that their premises and the systems they have in place within the pharmacy are fit for the purpose they are intended for. They should also respond to patients’ symptoms and advise on the medicines available for sale in the pharmacy.
A person must be on the GPhC register to be able to call themselves a pharmacist. There is a page that you can view to check whether your pharmacist is registered, and you could also see if there have been any outstanding allegations against their fitness to practice.
There are different kinds of medication error that you could suffer harm from. These could include:
The wrong dosage of medication was dispensed to a patient – If the dose is too small, it could mean their condition is not treated effectively which could lead the patient to suffer harm. If the dose is too high, then this could mean they suffer symptoms of an overdose. In extreme cases, this could be fatal.
The medication may have been mislabelled – this could mean that you take too many tablets at one time, or that the medication inside the package is not as described on the outside. The consequences of such a medication error could range in severity, depending on what kind of medication was consumed and how much of it was taken.
A patient could have been given the wrong medication by the pharmacy. This could mean that it causes a reaction or does not treat the illness that the patient is suffering from. The consequences of this could range from minor to severe.
If a pharmacy gave the wrong medication to someone who is taking other prescribed medication, then this could cause a drug interaction, which could cause them to suffer harm.
What happens if you are given the wrong medication depends on the medication you have been given, the amount you have taken and your medical condition. While in some cases, the effects of taking the wrong medication could only be minor, in other cases, they could prove to be fatal. Consequences of being given the wrong medication by a pharmacy could include:
Allergies – If the pharmacy dispenses the wrong medication to you and you are allergic to it, it could cause a reaction.
Side effects – You could suffer side effects from the medication that you would not have suffered if the right medication had been dispensed.
Drug interactions – If the medication you are given interacts with other medication you are taking, this could cause you to suffer harm.
Ineffective treatment – An error with your medication may mean your medical condition goes untreated, which could mean it worsens, or it could mean you suffer for longer than you should have done.
If you are eligible to make a medical negligence claim for the harm you have experienced due to the wrong medication being given to you by a pharmacy, you will need to collect evidence that supports your claim.
Some examples of the evidence you could collect to help support your claim include:
- A copy of your prescription form stating the medication you should have received.
- The box of the medication you were supplied by the pharmacy to help prove that they gave you the wrong medication.
- A copy of your medical records stating the harm you have suffered due to taking the wrong medication.
- A diary detailing any symptoms you’ve experienced.
If you work with a solicitor on your claim, they could help you with gathering any evidence that could help support your case.
To see if you could be eligible to make a claim for medical negligence or how the wrong medication could cause you to suffer harm, you can contact our advisors.
I Was Given The Wrong Medication By The Pharmacy – Could I Make A Claim?
If you could prove that the pharmacy’s error in dispensing your medication caused you harm in some way, then you could be eligible to claim compensation for your suffering as well as for costs that you have incurred because you were given the wrong medication by the pharmacy. However, the fault may not always lie with the pharmacist. Your doctor could be to blame for you being given the wrong medication too – if they have made an error on your prescription. This could be classed as medical negligence and could lead to a claim against the NHS or a private practice.
It would be prudent for us to mention here that there is usually a 3-year personal injury claims time limit on these types of claims, from either the date of discovery or the date of the negligence. While exceptions could apply in some cases, in most cases, the 3-year limit applies.
If you have found yourself suffering harm from being given the wrong medication, it could be wise to seek advice on whether you could be eligible to claim compensation. Clinical negligence cases could be complicated, as you would be required to prove that the negligence from the pharmacist caused you to suffer harm that you would not have suffered if you hadn’t received the wrong medication. Utilising the services of an experienced lawyer could help make the process a little easier for you.
You may be wondering how much compensation you could receive from a successful claim if the wrong medication was given to you by a pharmacy and you were harmed as a result. Unfortunately, we cannot provide an average payout for prescription error claims. This is because all personal injury claims are valued on a case-by-case basis, with consideration given to the specific circumstances of each claim. These can include:
- The severity of your injuries
- How your injuries will affect your daily life
- If your injuries have affected your mental health
- How your injuries have affected your employability
This all applies to the head of your claim known as general damages, which covers the pain and suffering your injuries may have caused. Legal professionals will often use the 2022 edition of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to help them value personal injury cases such as prescription error claims, as the JCG provides guideline amounts of compensation for various injuries and illnesses. You can find some examples of these figures in the table below.
|Injury Type||Compensation Bracket||Notes|
|Total Blindness (b)||In the region of £268,720||Total blindness.|
|Epilepsy (a)||£102,000 to £150,110||Established grand mal epileptic seizures.|
|Epilepsy (b)||£54,830 to £131,370||Estalished petit mal epileptic seizures.|
|Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic Injury (i)||£38,430 to £52,500||Severe toxicosis, for example. Hospital admission, and ongoing impact on ability to enjoy life.|
|Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic Injury||£910 to £3,950||Disabling diarrhoea, pain and cramps for some days or weeks.|
|Epilepsy (c)||£10,640 to £26,290||Cases of one or two minor epileptic episodes, but with no risk of recurrence.|
|Less Severe Brain Damage (d)||£15,320 to £43,060||A good recovery allowing for a return to normal working and social life.|
|Less Severe Psychiatric Damage (d)||£1,540 to £5,860||Consideration given to length of disability, specified phobias and sleep disturbance.|
|Moderate PTSD (c)||£8,180 to £23,150||Cases where a large recovery has taken place, with no disabling symptoms remaining.|
For more information on prescription error claims, contact our team of advisors today.
Special damages relate to the financial costs and any losses you’ve encountered because you were harmed by being given incorrect medication. They could include, but are not limited to:
Medical costs – Costs for medicines or medical treatment you have needed because the pharmacy dispensed the wrong medication could be included as part of your claim.
Travel costs – Transport costs for travel related to your claim could also be included.
Loss of income – If you took time off work to recover from the harm you suffered and lost out on wages because of this, then these losses could also be claimed for.
Care costs – If someone has had to care for you while you have been recovering because of harm you suffered due to a pharmacist’s mistake, the costs for your care could also be included within your claim.
Claiming compensation for the harm you’ve suffered from receiving the wrong medication from a pharmacy could be made simpler if you seek assistance from a lawyer. A lawyer could help complete all the paperwork needed to prove your claim and could fight for compensation from the pharmacy that has given you the wrong medication. They could also assess whether any offer of compensation you receive would be an appropriate amount, or whether they could help you fight for more.
Retaining the services of a lawyer doesn’t mean that you would have to pay them upfront. Choosing to work with a No Win No Fee solicitor means that you would pay them at the end of your claim, not the beginning, and their payment would be taken as a percentage of your compensation settlement. The ‘success fee’ percentage would be agreed in advance and documented within a Conditional Fee Agreement that you would sign before your solicitor starts work on your claim. If the solicitor cannot manage to achieve a compensation settlement for you, but your claim was valid, then you would not have to pay them the success fee.
Start Your Wrong Medication Claim
At Legal Helpline, we’d be happy to help you if you have experienced harm because your pharmacy has given you the wrong medication. Whether you’d like us to assess whether you’d have cause to launch a claim, or you’d just like some advice on what to do if the pharmacy gives you the wrong medication in the UK, we can be reached on 0161 696 9685. Alternatively, you could complete the contact form and one of our advisors will get in touch with you.
- Hospital Negligence Leading to A Death – This information may be of interest to you if you are claiming for a loved one who has lost their life due to negligence.
- Injured In A Pharmacy? – This guide covers accidents in public places, which could include pharmacies.
- Work Accident In A Pharmacy – If you have been injured at work in a pharmacy, then this guide might be helpful to you.
- Raising Concerns About A Pharmacy – If you have serious concerns about the service you have received at your pharmacy, this page could provide useful information.
- Preventing Medication Errors – Information on the government’s launch of a system to prevent medication errors can be found here.
- Pharmacy Standards – The pharmacy standards of care can be found here.