Pharmacists Owe Legal Duty of Care to Warn Patients of Medication Risks

A negligence claim against CVS Pharmacy and one of its pharmacists was allowed to go forward in accordance with a ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals today. The court ruled that a legal duty exists for a pharmacist to warn patients of risks involved with the taking of certain medications.

In Kolozsvari v. John Doe, M.D., No. 32A04-1008-CT-525, the plaintiff was prescribed OsmoPrep, a medication used in preparation for colonoscopies, and took the prescription to CVS to have it filled. While filling the prescription, the pharmacists received a warning screen on the computer stating that, because of the plaintiff’s age, there was a risk involved with prescribing the medication. The pharmacists dismissed the warning and filled the prescription without relaying the warning to the plaintiff. The following day, the plaintiff believed that the medication hadn’t prepared her well enough for the procedure and the doctor advised her to refill the prescription and try it again. She took the second prescription back to the pharmacy and relayed the information that she felt a tingling sensation in her body and asked if it was caused by the medication. The pharmacist said that it was not and refilled the prescription, ignoring a second warning relating to the risk involved with refilling the prescription so quickly. The pharmacy also had access to the plaintiff’s medication history and was on notice that she was routinely taking hypertension medication that is known to conflict with the colonoscopy drug. After taking the medication one more time, the plaintiff awoke the next morning to severe tingling and went to the hospital, which informed her that she had suffered a kidney failure and would need to be on dialysis indefinitely or receive a transplant.

In a negligence action against her doctor, nurse, CVS, and the pharmacist individually, the trial court granted summary judgment against the plaintiff, stating that there existed no duty of the pharmacist to warn patients of medication risks. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision, stating that “CVS and [the pharmacist] had a duty of care to [the plaintiff] either to warn [her] of the side effects of OsmoPrep or to withhold the medication in accordance with Indiana Code section 25-26-13-16 and Pharmacy Board rule 1-33-2.” The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

About Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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