Can Doctors Who Prescribe Recalled Drugs be Held Accountable?

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Millions of people rely on medication to treat dangerous medical conditions and maintain their health. The pharmaceutical industry is worth billions of dollars, as drug companies quickly work to come up with new drugs to treat every type of medical condition. Unfortunately, the race to get a medication to market sometimes outweighs safety, resulting in hundreds of federal drug recalls every year.

When patients are injured by defective drugs, they commonly seek compensation under the legal theory of product liability, but under some circumstances, a physician may also have some liability for prescribing a recalled medication. Depending on the physician’s actions before and/or after the recall, an injured patient may have a viable medical malpractice claim.

Malpractice Prior to a Recall – Ignoring the Warning Signs

Physicians are expected to act in a reasonable manner that conforms to practice standards. This means that the decisions and actions of a doctor should generally be viewed as appropriate by other doctors within his or her practice area. This responsibility extends to the prescription of medication, creating a professional duty to consider such factors as:

  • The comparison of potential risk and benefit
  • Possible drug interactions with other medications taken by the patient
  • The side effects of the medication

Even before a medication is officially recalled, reports often surface regarding patient harm, including published academic research studies, general news articles and peer reports. Physicians are expected to keep informed about the latest developments within their practice area and failing to do so may result in a successful medical malpractice claim if a patient is injured by a medication that is later recalled.

Malpractice After a Recall – Lack of Due Diligence

In some cases, the treating physician may prescribe a medication that has already been recalled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When the FDA recalls a medication, there are numerous reporting mechanisms in place to notify physicians. Not only is this information commonly included in medical journals and industry publications, the FDA maintains a searchable list of recalled medications. A diligent physician can quickly and easily access the agency’s website to search for a possible recall before prescribing any medication.

Even if the physician did not know of the recall before prescribing the medication, the plaintiff’s attorney may successfully argue that the doctor should have known. This goes back to the reasonableness standard that establishes the appropriateness of actions taken by medical professionals.

Maryland and Washington D.C. medical malpractice lawyers fighting for the rights of injured patients

If your prescription medication was recalled, count on the medical malpractice law firm of Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. to guide you through the complexities of a medical malpractice claim. We proudly serve injured patients throughout Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C. Call us today at 410-234-1000 or complete our contact form.