Williamsport Pharmaceutical Error Lawyer



When a pharmacist fills a prescription your doctor ordered, most people believe the medication they receive is correct and that it will help make them better. However, if pharmacy neglect should occur, your illness will not only be untreated, but you can develop harmful new symptoms and side effects that can make you sicker or can even lead to death.

There are more than 10,000 prescription medications available in the U.S., and nearly one-third of adults take 5 or more medications. When a patient suffers harm as a result of medication errors, it is called an adverse drug event (ADE), and these events cause nearly 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations each year. Nearly 5% of hospitalized patients experience an ADE, and ambulatory patients may have even higher rates, largely due to deaths from opioid medications.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pharmaceutical drugs kill over 40,000 people each year. Studies highlighted by the CDC estimate that more than 50% of all the drugs marketed to the American consumer have side effects that injure people, despite testing and FDA regulation.

Vitamin dietary supplements are another matter. They are, generally speaking, not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. They were exempted out of regulation a number of years ago. People take these products all the time, thinking they are “natural” and safe. In fact, the opposite may be true. Many dietary and vitamin supplements are synthetics of natural ingredients. On top of that, the potency may be enhanced greatly from the natural product. Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann is currently handling a major piece of litigation in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County involving OxyElite Pro. This over-the-counter dietary supplement contains, among other things, a product called aegeline from the bael leaf. However, it turns out that the aegeline is synthesized, meaning that the chemical structure of the bael leaf is copied, enhanced, and placed into the product. It is alleged in this case that the man who took the product developed liver failure and, after liver transplant, died.

The safety and efficacy of dietary and vitamin supplements is not passed upon by the FDA, may be very unsafe, and is a danger that most people are not aware of. Physicians are increasingly becoming aware of the use of dietary and vitamin supplements. These supplements may also interfere with FDA approved drugs.

If you or a loved one has been injured from pharmacist or pharmaceutical neglect, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries and other losses. However, people who suffer serious side effects may not realize the medication or combinations of medications are causing the problems. As a result, they often are not aware they may have a pharmacist or pharmaceutical error case until the time limits for filing have passed. So if you even suspect you have a case, you should contact an attorney immediately.

The seasoned Pennsylvania pharmaceutical and vitamin supplement medical malpractice attorney Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann is the leader in the field and is known for resolving cases efficiently and, if necessary, litigating cases. If you or a loved one has suffered any type of drug or pharmaceutical or dietary supplement injury, we may be able to help. We offer a free consultation, so contact us today to learn your legal options.

Common Types of Errors

A medication error refers to an error at any step in the process that begins when a clinician prescribes a medication and ends when the patient actually receives the medication. The pathway between a doctor’s decision to prescribe a medication and the patient actually receiving the medication consists of several steps:

  • Ordering: The clinician must select the appropriate medication and the dose and frequency.
  • Transcribing: A clerk in a hospital, or a pharmacist or pharmacy technician in the outpatient setting must read and interpret the prescription correctly.
  • Dispensing: The pharmacist must check for drug–drug interactions and allergies, then provide the right quantity of the medication in the correct form.
  • Administration: The correct medication must be supplied to the correct patient at the correct time by nurses, patients or caregivers.

Medication errors that cause harm are often caused by:

  • Wrong drug — Pharmacists may fill prescriptions with a drug with a similar name or appearance.
  • Wrong dosage — Doctors may prescribe incorrect dosages, or pharmacists may instruct the patient to take the wrong amount of a product.
  • Technology Errors — Computers and other technology that help with medication monitoring can have system problems, fail, and have confusing software that leads to user mistakes. According to a study by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, in the first six months of 2016, Pennsylvania hospitals reported 889 medication errors or close calls related to electronic health records and other technology used to monitor and record patients’ treatment. Most of these errors involved missed doses, wrong or over doses, and extra doses.

What are Risk Factors for Adverse Drug Events?

Risk factors may be patient-specific, drug-specific, and clinician-specific. Common risk factors include:


Polypharmacy (taking more medication than clinically necessary) occurs most commonly among elderly patients, who take more medications and are more susceptible to adverse effects, and also among pediatric patients since many medications for children must be dosed according to their weight.

Caregivers and patients themselves may make medication administration errors, especially if they are not literate and have trouble calculating dosages.


The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has a list of high-alert medications that can cause significant patient harm if used in error. These include medications that have dangerous adverse effects, and also look-alike and sound-alike medications, which have similar names and physical appearance but have completely different effects.


Doctors must be aware that there are some types of medications where the potential for harm generally outweighs the benefits (such as benzodiazepine sedatives in elderly patients), and they must use caution in prescribing them.They should carefully monitor patients taking other commonly used medications that have risks but offer significant benefits if used properly. These medications include:

  • antidiabetic agents (e.g., insulin)
  • oral anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin)
  • antiplatelet agents (such as aspirin and clopidogrel)
  • opioid pain medications

Together, these four medications account for more than 50% of emergency department visits for ADEs in Medicare patients.

In addition, pharmacies must be aware of dangerous drug combinations between drugs that may not cause harm on their own but will have adverse effects when taken together.

Dietary supplements/vitamin Supplements

These are not prescribed by doctors. In fact, many doctors do not know their patients are taking these substances. The same is true with over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.

The Law

The law dealing with FDA drugs and medical devices is different than the law which applies to non-FDA approved substances. FDA approved pharmaceuticals may lead to very complex cases. Preemption often restricts a patient’s options. Many of these claims wind up in multi-district litigation. Oftentimes the issue is whether the drug manufacturer gave proper warnings and information to the FDA when seeking approval for their drug.

Non-FDA-approved substances such as vitamin and dietary supplements are subject to current state law products liability. In this scenario, a substance which is unreasonably unsafe or lacks appropriate warnings may give rise to a claim.

There are also doctrines which apply to these cases where there are warnings with respect to the drugs and pharmaceuticals. Sometimes doctors may be liable for prescribing the wrong drug or contraindicated drug, and other times liability may be on the manufacturer. As indicated earlier, pharmacist liability may also be an issue.

Do You Have a Pharmacist or Pharmaceutical Malpractice Case?

Pharmacist or pharmaceutical malpractice occurs when a medical professional or pharmacist does not conform to the standard of care in his or her field. It can also involve product liability claims when manufacturers fail to provide information, or even give false or misleading information, to federal approving authorities. Claims may be based upon the safety of the drug or medical device — some medical devices malfunction, and others are defective — the nature of the warnings on the product, or possibly even the marketing of the drug. Of course, preemption may be an issue, as mentioned earlier.

Some pharmaceutical lawsuits are brought as individual cases, while others are multi-district cases or class action lawsuits. How a case is handled depends upon the facts of each case and the basis of liability. It takes a great deal of expertise to understand the nuances and complexities of the interaction between federal and state law in both medical device and pharmaceutical cases.

If You Have Suffered Serious Side Effects or Harm From Pharmaceutical Errors, Our Attorneys Are Here to Help

Pharmacist, pharmaceutical, vitamin/dietary supplement litigation can be very complex. It is essential to have an experienced attorney and legal staff on your side. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a verdict in the courtroom, the seasoned Pennsylvania personal injury attorney Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann is familiar with the law and is thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome. With our staff, we offer strength in numbers to do research and to pursue your interests in court, while providing personal service.

If you or your loved one has suffered injury from pharmacist, pharmaceutical, medical device, drug related, vitamin or dietary supplement wrongdoing, time is of the essence. Do not delay. Contact Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling 800-326-9259 or by using our online contact form.

Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award. Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice. Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania. Cliff Rieders wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state. Cliff teaches the subject of medical malpractice at seminars attended by the leading lawyers in the state. Cliff Rieders is recognized as an outstanding authority in the medical malpractice field. Cliff has even testified before the legislature on medical malpractice laws. Cliff Rieders is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice in the medical malpractice and pharmaceutical/vitamin supplement fields. Cliff Rieders is admitted in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all medical malpractice matters. We are dedicated to providing the legal support you need to have a successful case, and we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.