Nevada Supreme Court rules pharmacist may have duty for customer-specific risk

By Correy Stephenson

The Daily Record Newswire

When a pharmacist has knowledge of a customer-specific risk with respect to a prescribed medication, he or she has a duty to exercise reasonable care in warning the customer or notifying the prescribing doctor of this risk, the Nevada Supreme Court has ruled in reversing a summary judgment.

A doctor prescribed a sulfa-based medication to a patient with a questionable history of an allergy to sulfa.

Because the allergy was listed in her pharmacy records, the prescription was flagged.

A pharmacist discussed the issue with the patient's caretaker, who picked up the medicine, and called the patient.

The patient said she had taken the medication in the past and had not experienced any adverse reaction.

The pharmacist then manually overrode the system and released the prescription.

The patient died after developing SJS/TEN, a severe skin reaction that burns the skin from the inside out.

Her estate filed suit, alleging that the pharmacist breached the duty of care.

The Nevada Supreme Court first held that under the learned-intermediary doctrine, pharmacists have no duty to warn customers of a prescribed medication's generalized risks.

However, when a pharmacist has knowledge of a "customer-specific risk," he or she is not insulated from liability, the court said.

"We conclude that when a pharmacist has knowledge of a customer-specific risk with respect to a prescribed medication, the pharmacist has a duty to exercise reasonable care in warning the customer or notifying the prescribing doctor of this risk."

The court cited similar decisions from Illinois and Utah.

Nevada Supreme Court. Klasch v. Walgreen Co., No. 54805. Nov. 23, 2011. Lawyers USA No. 993-3385.

Published: Mon, Dec 26, 2011

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