Pharmacists Required to Preserve Evidence for Dispensing Error Cases

Recently, a man was prescribed Valsartan, a medication used to treat high blood pressure, and the pharmacy mistakenly gave the man a container with both Valsartan pills and Lithium pills. The pills were the same color but different shapes. The man took the medication as prescribed. When the man’s wife discovered the mistake a few days later and brought back the container, a pharmacist confirmed that the container had both pills inside. The pharmacy then set aside the medication and later destroyed it, in accordance with the company’s policy.

Pills in BottleSoon afterward, the man experienced numbness and weakness in his hand and checked into the hospital. The treating physician believed that the man had a reaction to the Lithium pills he mistakenly took. The man’s symptoms continued to worsen in the following months, and he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and polyneuropathy, allegedly due to his consumption of Lithium. The man had surgery performed on his hand and arm, but he continued to suffer from pain and stiffness in his hand.

The man filed a negligence case against the pharmacy for his injuries. During discovery, the pharmacy was asked to turn over the container with the mixed pills to determine if some of the pills were Lithium pills. The pharmacy stated that it had destroyed the container and its contents, pursuant to the store’s policy. Due to the pharmacy’s destruction of evidence, the man filed for sanctions against the pharmacy.

The court found that even though the pharmacy followed its store’s policy by destroying the medications, it failed to follow its duty to preserve evidence. Since the man returned defective medication, the pharmacy was then on notice of potential future litigation, and it was required to preserve evidence. However, the court did not impose sanctions on the pharmacy for failing to preserve evidence because the man did not suffer any prejudice because of the pharmacy’s failure to preserve the evidence. The pharmacist admitted to mistakenly dispensing the medication and only argued that the man’s injuries were not caused by his consumption of Lithium pills. As a result, the pill container would not help to prove the man’s case, and the destruction of evidence was not material.

The Duty to Preserve Evidence

When a case begins, parties and their attorneys must preserve evidence related to the case, including both physical and digital evidence. However, the duty may arise even before a case begins. The duty to preserve evidence can arise in specific settings provided by statute or court rules. For example, a statute requires hospitals to keep x-rays for five years, and if notified of pending litigation, hospitals must keep them for up to 12 years. If a party fails to preserve evidence, a court can impose sanctions—including deciding the case in favor of the opposing party.

Contact an Experienced Attorney to Obtain Vigorous Legal Representation

At Moll Law Group, our Chicago injury attorneys are skilled in helping to guide people through medical malpractice, product liability, and other accident claims. Such cases can include pharmacy error claims and can also include product liability claims against drug manufacturers. We represent individuals throughout the Chicago area, including in Naperville, Wheaton, Schaumburg, and communities throughout Cook County. Our attorneys can also bring product liability cases nationwide. Billions of dollars have been recovered in cases in which we were involved. Use our online form to arrange a free consultation or call us at 312-462-1700.

See More Posts:

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Defendant Allowed to Reopen Case After Filing Response Seven Months Late, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, September 16, 2016.

Court Determines that Land Surveyors Are Considered “Professionals” for Negligence Claims, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, September 30, 2016.