If a pharmacist refused to fill a valid prescription for pain meds for my wife on the day she was discharged from a major surgery, do I have a case?

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If a pharmacist refused to fill a valid prescription for pain meds for my wife on the day she was discharged from a major surgery, do I have a case?

My wife had a major surgery to remove endometriosis tissue – her fourth surgery in 2 years for the condition. On the day that she was discharged from the hospital she was prescribed pain medication to help her with post surgery pain. The pharmacist refused to fill it because the medication had a known interaction with another pain medication that my wife had been prescribed previously. However, the surgeon was aware of this previous medication and has already asked my wife to come off this medication one week prior. When the surgeon called to confirm this with the pharmacist, the pharmacist refused still to fill the prescription, telling the surgeon that there had been too much back and forth and she didn’t feel comfortable filling the prescription. This left my wife in serious pain, post-surgery. I believe that the pharmacist withheld the medication because of a discrimination toward my wife and I.

Asked on August 16, 2016 under Malpractice Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, not unless you are prepared to spend alot of money to not recover much money. From your question, it appears that the harm done your wife was being in more pain than she should have been, for hours or perhaps days; but you do not indicate any lasting or permanent injury or detriment to her. The amount of "pain and suffering" compensation you could receive for hours, or even days, of greater-than-necessary pain is very little--people might only receive several thousand, or a very few tens of thousands, for *permanent* pain and disability resulting from, say, whiplash in a car accident. If permanent pain is only worth, by way of example, $20,000 or $30,000, how much is a few days worth? Several hundred dollars? A thousand? But meanwhile, you would have to have pay a medical expert many hundred or even a few thousand dollars--and that's even without paying for a lawyer. You could easily spend more on this case when you get. 
That's not to say the pharmacist was right; and it's not to say that she doesn't deserve some punishment--you could report her to the licensng board, for example. But a civil lawsuit is designed to provide compensation commensurate with the injury done; and when there is  no long-lasting or permanent physical injury, the compensation available is slight. A civil lawsuit is not the proper mechanism for a case like this.


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